About two years ago I was on a ten-day mission trip in Colombia with a group of college students from three different cities: Boston, Miami, and Las Vegas. The purpose of our mission was to come alongside two churches – one in Pereira and one in Jamundi. My role primarily was to lead worship for our team as well as with the worship teams at each church, learning from one another as we engaged in making music for the Lord. Part of this journey involved leading worship during a women’s small group (which actually turned out to be a very LARGE group) bible study, led and taught by two of our own team leaders. The teaching was from a passage which, to this day, continues to impact me in my walk with God in ways I never expected.
The passage was 2 Corinthians 4, which if you’ve never read through it before, stop right here and go read it and take your time with it. Seriously, do it. It’s SO good. I’ll be here waiting when you’re done.
Here we see Paul speaking to the church in Corinth about the light of the gospel within believers being hidden in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:6-10). To illustrate this a bit our team leader brought a styrofoam cup and a sharpened pencil. Then, beginning with ladies from our own team, the cup and pencil were passed around, and as it came to them we encouraged each woman to share a moment in her life she felt represented a “crack” in her story; a moment of guilt, sorrow, brokenness. As these stories were shared, in moments of heartbreaking vulnerability, we each poked a hole into the cup with the pencil, each hole representing part of another woman’s story. When the cup finally returned to our team leader it was full of piercings, still in one piece, but very broken. And then with a flashlight she shone a light into the cup, and rays of light came beaming out in multiple directions. Brokenness made beautiful.
Part of my effort to order my world and make things look neat on the outside can sometimes be a way I try to seal up the cracks in my heart that I’m not proud of. But what this passage and this time of sharing revealed to me and to dozens of other women that night was this: the light of God’s glory in our lives shines brightest through those stories, those cracks. We may want to seal them up because of guilt or shame, but God wants to radiate through them and show how He is creating something even more beautiful through the broken pieces. When we are given this “light” we know it is from Him and not from us, and our broken jars can radiate the love of God in ways we can never know if we’re constantly trying to plug up the holes and fill in the gaps ourselves.
This is one of the big reasons I wanted to start this little project, The Messy Coffee Table. As you may have guessed by now, my logo—designed by my incredibly supportive husband—is inspired by this beautiful passage of scripture in 2 Corinthians and is the intended theme behind all of it (and if it’s not yet clear why it’s a coffee cup versus a jar, it should become clearer as we get to know each other!). Think about how clay jars are made…the potter molds the clay, spinning and putting pressure on the soft material until it’s formed into what the potter intended. The finished work is fragile, yes, but beautiful in the eyes of the creator.
That’s kinda how God created us, and better yet, he created us in His image so that we can do the same here on earth. Paul also tells us God has “shone in us” the light of the Gospel. He describes this light as a treasure, hidden within believers in our fragile human hearts, and I believe we have a choice as to whether we will seal up the cracks or let the light shine through.
Creating and ordering in the chaos of our world does bring God glory, but so does letting Him shine in the mess. Ultimately it is not us doing these beautiful and creative things, but Him through us. So when we are feeling messy and broken into tiny pieces we can rest knowing that it is Him who makes us whole and creative beings, and that our failures and imperfections no longer define us because of who He is and what He has done.
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 4:15)
This is my prayer for you as I embark on my own journey of letting light shine out of darkness: that He would shine in your heart to give you the light of the knowledge of His glory, if He hasn’t already, and that this treasure would not remain hidden in you, but come shining out of your heart and through the telling of your story.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on 2 Corinthians 4 and what you hear God teaching you through it as well. I think it’s so important to engage with others on this journey, because we all have so much to learn from and through each other, so please feel free to leave a comment or reach out via the “Connect” link up above.
Let your light shine.