“But we have this treasure (a deposit, wealth) in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power (where we get the word dynamite) may be of God and not from ourselves.” The same verse in the amplified version – “However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.” And here it is in the message version: “We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
I heard something on this verse a while ago that I want to pass along. Having done a lot of pottery myself, the significance of this story spoke to me in an unusual way. The earthen vessels in this verse are containers made of clay. Usually we hear this verse taught this way – “How wonderful that God put His power to work in a clay pot, something fragile and breakable to show that He is the source of the power and gets the glory.” I’m not saying that is in any way incorrect. But after you read this, it may strike you differently.
The story is this: an engineer working on the Hoover dam back in the 1930’s was in charge of some major development that had to do with the power plant being built along with the dam. I don’t recall his name so I’ll just call him Bob for my telling of the story. The location of where the voltage coming from the dam ends up, has a specific name – a bushing. It houses (or receives) the electricity. It is a small thing but has a hugely important job – accept all the voltage coming into the place that is sent back out as electricity. As construction was underway, everything the engineers were using to accept all the voltage coming in from the power plant was exploding as the power/electricity hit it. Every material they could think of was used and tested and everything failed. Time was wasting away and a deadline was coming up and nothing could be found to use in this key aspect of their construction on the dam. If nothing could be found it was all a waste. Bob even got a call from then President Hoover saying this better be done, or else. Bob, being a Christian, asked his family to pray for him and he asked the Lord for an answer overnight. That night Bob had a dream about John 2 – the water turning into wine miracle of Jesus. When he woke up he didn’t really get any connection between that and his need for an engineering answer. But what he did was tell his staff to take some time off and rest and think and come back ready to brain storm about the answer to this situation.
As Bob rested, (which I believe to be a key factor in any need for guidance) he kept thinking of the water turning into wine and thought there would have had to have been a lot of electricity to change water at the molecular level into an alcoholic beverage. The large pots holding the water withstood whatever Jesus did to make the water into wine, at least from a scientific view.
One of his staff members had gone to Egypt while they were off work and went into one of the pyramids. When everyone came back to work, Bob asked what the man who went to Egypt brought back with him and he told him an old, small clay pot. Then it clicked for Bob – the clay pots from John 2 and this very old clay pot that did not turn into dust after all these years. So he had the pot from Egypt analyzed and had the needed bushing part made of the exact same clay recipe and tested it out. You can guess it – it did not blow up and saved the entire process of turning the water into electricity at Hoover Dam!
When I heard this story connected with 2 Cor 4:7 it made me realize that yes we are fragile bodies made of mortal flesh, but God has put His power to work in us because He knows how to harness it. We are only the conduits – like the bushing piece on the dam. It’s as if His power it attracted to weakness and our weakness can hold His power in a way nothing that is strong can. We will not blow up or expire following Him or doing His work. You know, each word in Scripture is there for a reason and nothing is wasted. No matter if we are sick, poor, or otherwise feeling weak according to the things in the natural, we are not weak in His eyes. The previous verse says, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That is the real treasure! And this power that God puts in us – clay vessels – is real power, dynamite power – His power. It gives me great confidence to think of this. When I fire a pot several times to get the results wanted, it goes through great heat. The pot can take so much more heat than we think. Even if we feel broken, we still can receive the power of God moving through us. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, not any merit of our own. The clay vessel doesn’t produce anything. God is the Potter, He is the Vine. He is the one with all the power each person needs to deal with life. Allow Him do His work in you and flow through you. He alone knows how to shape you to hold this great treasure. Remember that you, an earthen vessel, are one on purpose!
2 Cor 12:9 says, “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.” Rest knowing that He knows how to perfect what we call weakness and flow through us to showcase His power to us and the world.