Balls of Clay

I was running a little late for church this morning. My wife hurt her lower back earlier in the week, so she had taken some muscle relaxers and was moving slow. I encouraged her to just go back to bed and let them do their work. I would go by myself. While walking to the church, I spotted a family getting out of a white Jeep Wagoneer. There appeared to be two parents, and six children. As I approached, the native father asked if church had started. I replied in the affirmative and we walked and talked to the door.

He told me that he had attended here in 1984, when he was in the 6th grade. They were passing through and he had stopped to show his family where he had attended school as a kid. I was pleasant enough, I thought, and we continued into the building and found a place to sit. I was sitting across the aisle from them.

The pastor, as is his custom, started his presentation from current events. This time it was amazing factoids about Super Bowl Sunday … the billion or more people watching the games live in 37 countries of the world… how many HD TVs were purchased during the days proceeding the game … how many million pounds of potato chips were consumed during the game … the 12′ high pile of guacamole that would cover the entire football field (wait a minute, that’s how much of it was eaten)… and on and on.

Hardly had he started to make his point of the facts he was presenting, when they quietly got up and left. As they were leaving, I kept telling myself, “I should go after them and invite them to stay for lunch. Or offer to show them around campus. Naw. I REALLY should. No, they’re probably in a hurry, or…. “

You probably know that inner voice that tries to get you to do something, and the other voice that tries to disparage you from doing it. Well, I was getting the works!

When I finally decided it was too late to do any of the above, I just settled in to enjoy the sermon.

When I returned home and was awaiting the preparation of lunch, I was sifting through my “Documents” folder looking for things that I could throw away to make room on my hard drive. I chanced upon one called “Clay Balls.” Not remembering what it was, I opened it to see if it was worth saving. To my utter amazement it was directly related to my morning’s experience!



The Clay Balls



A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him.


As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone! Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!



It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure within that person.



There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.


May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.


How many times I have tossed away a clay ball, the opportunity to make friendships, and had tossed away a jewel instead?