evangelism | faith | grace | smallness | weakness

Clayish Expectations

January 25, 2021

People concoct certain expectations of you after moving abroad, especially if you immigrated to a wealthier nation. No one is to blame. I myself hold this kind of mindset.

Exposed to lack and deprivation from my growing years, I believe flying out of the country is my only ticket out of scarcity. Of course, not everyone holds this belief. Some lived in better conditions compared to where our family was.

I was young and impressionable when I heard stories and witnessed individuals, whose improved lifestyle is the dream of the disadvantaged.

They have access to snickers and spam and spread strawberry Smuckers jam to their toast without inhibitions. They could afford good quality stuff: school supplies, clothes, and whatnots that don’t fall apart after first use.

They live in better housing with centralized air conditioning, heaven-sent for the Philippines’ muggy weather.

They sashay in spitless and poo-less and floodless neighborhoods on their way to their comfortable and convenient transportations. 

This is a vision I held on to all those years while eating instant noodles and canned goods and luxuriating on Pizza Hut and KFC once a month. This mental imagery pushed me to take risks, away from the security of my family.

A decade has progressed since then. I thought I’d have conformed more and more to the flashy persona I’d conjure of myself from ages past. But I was terribly mistaken.

I may have access to all the things I dream about as an underprivileged young girl. But introspection tells me I’m no better. I’ve only accomplished some clayish expectations. Temporal. Fragile. I remain weak and wanting. Nothing flashy. Nothing extraordinary.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Thankfully, weaklings like me could depend on God. It’s not about what I have attained, how far I’ve gone, how better accomplished. Rather, it’s about God’s power flowing through me, like a fountain of water bubbling from the inside, spilling on the outside. 

What glory would my puny accomplishments boast? Nothing! I am nothing without the Lord Jesus Christ in my life. I would never be where I am today without Him. All the glory belongs to God and Him alone.

I’m just one jar of clay, but inside God’s surpassing power surges. Power like gazillion nuclear bombs igniting all at once. Power that energizes the universe to stir in concordance. Break me and Christ shines magnificently, minus the obstruction of me.

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When someone comments I haven’t changed much during our visits to the Philippines, I contort an inner smile. It’s true. I’m made of clay. I still like instant noodles and canned goods. And I’m able to adjust to plenty and paucity — though at first, I protest an act of defiance to the latter. 

Again, it’s never about what I’ve done, where I am, or conformance to a growing list of clayish expectations. It’s about what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in my life and how my story could be a testament to His grace and goodness. And it’s not only true to me but also to those who believe all things are possible in Him.

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