Celtic Spiritual Poetry (19)
Whoever does the will of the Son of God from heaven
is a blazing sun in which there is summer,
he is the seat of God in heaven,
he is a pure vessel of crystal.
He is a victorious horse crossing a level plain,
the man who seeks the kingdom of the great God:
he is a chariot in which a king is seen to ride,
which carries off the prizes with noble grace.
- Oengus mac Oengobann, Féilire Oengusso, Irish, 9thcentury
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
- 2 Corinthians 4.7
Many Christians don’t have a very high view of themselves. And that’s good, because, well, really, I know me, and I rather suspect you aren’t too different. The Bible speaks of us as dust, vapor, and shadow. In the grand scheme of things, we are pretty small stuff. And it’s clear that we’re not much to shout about, given our sinful thoughts, selfish ways, weak wills, and puny strength. We are prone to self-interest, given to sloth, apt to fail, and destined to disappoint.
It’s what we do.
We are but earthen vessels, let’s face it, and earthen vessels can be unreliable. So we have nothing to boast about – at least, not in ourselves.
But we have everythingto boast about in the Lord. For it pleases the Lord to use silly people like you and me to show the excellence of His power and to carry out His glorious designs.
One of the purposes of Oengus’ Martyrology was to encourage the people of God, day by day, with the examples of saints who were, just as we are, dust, vapor, and shadow; but who, because of their faith in Christ, became bright lights, precious crystal bowls, victorious war horses, and mighty battle chariots for the Lord. They invested the glorious Gospel, deposited in them, in ways that shone the radiant glory of Christ to the world.
God has deposited the eternal treasure of the Gospel in our souls, and He has stationed the Spirit there to make sure that treasure is safe and bears much interest for God’s glory. Our calling is to recognize the eternal riches invested in us, and to spend the grace and truth of God in every situation, at every opportunity, as often as we may. Thus others come to know the blessings of God, and join us in giving Him the thanks and praise which are His due.
When Christ comes to dwell in us by grace through faith, and begins to manifest His glory in and through us, then we show ourselves to be royalearthen vessels, blazing suns, victorious horses, King-bearing chariots of divine presence and power. The treasure of the Gospel, wisely invested by individual treasuries such as we are, brings blessings of grace and truth to the world and glorious returns for the Lord and His Kingdom.
Not because of anything in us – except, of course, the Spirit and power of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2.13; Eph. 3.20).
And then we have something to boast about, for sure – but not ourselves.
Like John in that frail fishing vessel, whispering to Peter as they hauled in their enormous catch on that dark early morning, we say to ourselves, at every glimmer of glory that sparkles through our frail flesh, “It is the Lord!” He has invested His Gospel in us, and calls us to be good stewards of that treasure. And when we spend the grace of God wisely, the glory of God shines through us for all to see.
This is what the Christian life is all about. God takes nobodies like us, fills us with Himself, deposits the Gospel into every aspect and facet of our lives, and makes the universe stand up and take notice. We become martyrs for Christ – witnesses by our lives and words that He is alive, and His Word is reliable and true. As we bear witness to Him and the treasure of the Gospel, He fills the space around us through us, for His glory.
Pray for the day ahead – the things you’ll do, the people you’ll meet. You are no ordinary person. You are a royal vessel of the King of kings. You have an infinite treasure of grace, truth, and blessing to spend. How will you spend that treasure today?
Questions for Reflection
1. What opportunities for “spending” the grace of the Lord can you anticipate for today?
2. How can you prepare now for making the most of those opportunities as they arise (Eph. 5.15-17; Ps. 90.12, 16, 17)?
Psalm 144.3, 4, 15 (Tidings: O Zion Haste, Your Mission High Fulfilling)
Lord, who are we, that You regard and love us?
Why should you care for our poor sinful plight?
We are but breath; You dwell on high above us;
Our days like shadows pass before Your light.
Happy are they on whom blessings fall!
Blessed are the people who on Jesus’ mercy call!
Lord, have mercy upon me, and make me a vessel of grace and truth today as I…
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T. M. Moore
All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Carey, p. 204.