Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians 4:7

An Inspirational Clay Pot: Gladys Aylward


But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  2 Corinthians 4:7

Gladys Aylward was a missionary to China beginning around 1940.  If she listened to the people around her telling her what she couldn’t do, she never would have gotten there.  She had to drop out of school at 14 to work full time to help support her family.  Some time in her 20’s, God pulled at her heart to go to China as a missionary.  She took classes at the China Missionary Fellowship, but didn’t pass the exams.  They told her she wasn’t smart enough, wouldn’t be able to learn Chinese, was too old and wouldn’t be able to stand the rigors.


Undeterred, she took on two more jobs and saved money to pay for her own passage to China.  She had seen an ad at her church from a missionary widow in China asking others to join her to help with the work, so Gladys was determined to go and help.  This is what God put on her heart.  She finally had enough money and bought a train ticket on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and took it by herself across Germany, Poland, Russia and Siberia until it finally headed into China.  The journey was harrowing, filled with several danger points where God clearly protected Gladys to get her to China safely.

Gladys found the widow Jeannie Lawson and took to learning Chinese, helping Jeannie at her mule outpost station.  Jeannie had gotten dementia and died within the first year of Gladys’ arrival.  The Chinese called her a foreign devil.  But she served God and the Chinese, working her way into their hearts.  She served the travelers meals, took care of their mules and told the men Bible stories at night.  The Chinese government made her a foot inspector, sending her to guarantee that girls’ feet would no longer be bound.  As she did, she told them about Jesus.

One day a village official came to her requesting that she go to the local prison where there was a fierce riot that they could not stop.  Gladys was 4′ 10″ tall, a tiny woman.  She replied “I can’t go in there–they’ll kill me.”  The official countered, “But you said the Spirit of the living God is inside you.  They can’t kill you.”  She went, quoting to herself her guiding verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

A crazed man came after her with a hatchet, swinging it as he ran straight toward her.  She stood her ground, looked him in the eye and demanded firmly, “Give me that axe.”  He froze and handed her the axe.  She then told all of the men to line up, and amazingly so, they all listened.  Then she listened to them tell her of the things that needed changing.  Gladys was able to negotiate with the officials that they clean up the filthy prison and give them more food.  Through her direction, prison reform came and many placed their trust in Jesus.

Gladys’ story encourages me so.  The Spirit of the living God is inside of me, as He is inside of all believers.  No man is coming at me with a hatchet, but I sure need courage to stand strong in Jesus and to be used by Him in my world.  I need to believe in what God can do through me and not in all of the things people have told me all through life that I can’t do.

Mercy Me has a song out, “In the Blink of an Eye.”  Some of its lyrics are “How can I further Your kingdom when I’m so wrapped up in mine?”  And, “Though I’m living the good life, can my life be something great?”  Usually being about God’s kingdom and not my own involves sacrifice and risk, even courage.  I took a risk this week when I called up a work associate whose husband is in hospice, awaiting death from cancer.  I knew I needed to pray with her and speak spiritual truths to them, not just well wishes in a difficult time.   I asked her if I could pray for her on the phone and she said, “Oh yes, please.”  It was on my heart to give another co-worker a devotional book to begin to open the door to talk about Jesus.  I gave a recently widowed young mother and her three boys a gift card to a waterpark and hotel resort, telling them that God had put it on my heart to do so.

I’m realizing that being a servant, a vocal witness, and an uncompromising Jesus follower rests in the same promise that Gladys stood on “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” because an alive and powerful Holy Spirit is at work in my life.  According to Ephesians 1, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work for me to see God do things in and through me.

*Photo from MyLordKatie-WordPress.com

Calling All Clay Pots


But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  2 Corinthians 4:7

We have this treasure.  What treasure?  ‘This’ is what is called an antecedent.  It refers to something that was just talked about.  Look at 2 Corinthians 4:6 to find what the treasure is: “God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  

Our treasure is the knowledge of the glory of God, revealed to us through Jesus.  In other words, the fact that ‘you once were lost but now am found, was blind but now you see’ is your treasure.  God has taken the blinders off that Satan put on and now you know Jesus, who is the ambassador or  the representation of God’s glory.  And He is in your life.

Our treasure is also the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, along with gifting from the Holy Spirit to carry out kingdom work.  We each have been given gifts and are responsible to use them.  We are to be good stewards of this treasure that has been given to us.  It’s not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others and for the glory of God.

In jars of clay.  Think about it: God has saved us.  He put His Spirit and His power into us that, and according to Ephesians 1:19 it is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  The Spirit of the living God is inside of us.  Let that sink in.  

You  think God would make us into superheroes or movie stars so people could pick us out of the crowd and say “I want her on my team,” because of our stunning features.  But it’s not like that.  God put His power, His Spirit, His glory inside of regular folk like us–clay pots.  Clay pots from the greenhouse that you transplant flowers in and leave on the deck through all kinds of weather.  Clay pots that break and get cracks in them.  Frail and mortal people like us, with all kinds of quirks and weaknesses.

To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  I don’t get to be the power broker to use when I need a good parking space or when I have the flu.  The surpassing (exceeding, excelling, outmatching, abundant) power of God is for His purposes and for His glory, not ours.  And He has chosen to use weak vessels like clay pots (us) to get His work done.  If we were super stars, then we would say, “I did this.”  Judges 7:2 puts it this way: “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over Me, saying ‘my own hand has saved me.’”

Clay pots, listen up:  If you feel like God could never use you because of your past, or your shyness, or because you never did well in school–take heart.  You’re exactly who God wants to use!

*Photo from davidworcestor.net