5th February 2013

Look What’s In That Old Pot

“This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthenware jar…”
2 Corinthians 4:7 (Phillips)

It was a beautiful day with a strong wind pushing the clouds scurrying across a blue sky and beginning to stir up white breakers out at sea. I was walking from Birling Gap along the coastal path towards Beachy Head, the most well known part of the Sussex Eastbourne Downland. Nearly 600 feet below me the ocean broke against the crumbling chalk cliffs that are being continuously eroded by the waves. Singles, couples, families and dogs were all out enjoying themselves. Signs warn walkers not to go near to the fragile cliff edge but in spite of this I passed three teenagers in a huddle rather close to it and then I saw a solitary woman sitting at the edge. Beachy Head is not only known for its dramatic beauty but for being the spot where many people choose to end their lives, jumping to their deaths on the rocks below. This lady was sitting sideways to the cliff and her body language seemed to be calm. I wondered whether I should call out a greeting as I went by, but there was something about her I couldn’t put my finger on: she seemed alone, shut off from the people that went by, and unsure; I walked on.

The area is far from flat and after a while I was getting tired – downs are OK, but climbing the ups was wearing me out.  I turned back into the wind towards Birling Gap and a cup of coffee at the cafe. I had forgotten about the woman but as I passed that part of the cliff something caught my eye at the edge: it was a bouquet of flowers. So now I knew why she had been sitting there; I just didn’t know which dear member of her family she had lost.

The memory of that sad lone figure lingered in my mind and I wondered whether I realised the value of the knowledge that I have. Jesus described God’s kingdom as treasure, and as a pearl of great price, items of such great value that the farmer and merchant gave everything for them (Matthew 13:44-46). Bundled up within our relationship with Christ is “a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge’ (Isaiah 33:6 NIV) which brings extraordinary life-changing certainty and comfort. It includes understanding of not only our own destiny, but the future that awaits all of us, including the 77 despairing people last year who chose to end their lives at Beachy Head. It includes the knowledge that God is the God of the living and he is never thwarted by our decisions. He leaves us free to make our choices – but he is in control and no life can be lost forever by Him.


Our praise and thanks fly up to you, our Father, for Christ in us, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3 NIV)

Study by Hilary Buck

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