When my older sister was in college, she discovered this great place to buy unique, beautiful ceramics in Chinatown. Suzy and I ended up going to this store many times when visiting Mary and her husband, Kristian, in NYC. We bought a set of plates and bowls over time and actually have 3 of the bowls with us here in Costa Rica; the rest of the bowls should already be waiting for us in Ecuador.
I was washing one of the bowls from this set the other night, and something about it just captivated me. I've always loved these bowls-- there's just something earthy and artistic and warm about them-- but it hit me in a different way. We have no dishwasher here, so we wash everything by hand. Now, this isn't the first time in our marriage that this has been the case. In fact, I've broken many different dishes over our past 5+ years of marriage. But these bowls are the only dishes that we have here that hold any real sentimental value. I noticed how careful I was being when I started rinsing the bowl. Without even thinking about it, I had given so much extra care to this bowl than to any of the other things I had previously washed. It reminded me a little of how our heavenly father must feel about each and every one of us.
But it's just a bowl. I use it to contain my food. What's the big deal, right?
We've been studying prepositions this week in class: a, de, en, con, por, and para. Por and para both loosely mean 'for.' It's really confusing to know when to use which one properly. Our teacher gave us the 'rules' when you would use all of these prepositions-- but took some extra time to give us examples of when you would use them. When you use 'por' in the question "[For] why do drink water?" the response is a surface level idea: "Because I'm thirsty." But when you use 'para' in the same question, "[For] why do you drink water?" it gets at the deeper heart of why you choose to drink water. I drink water to keep myself hydrated, to be healthy because I know water gives me strength and life and is necessary for my body to function well. In the same vein, she said if someone asked us why we are studying spanish, we could respond, "Because I don't know how to speak it." Or we could respond with 'para' and communicate the fact that we study spanish because we want to show the love of Christ through our words and we want to proclaim the Good News of the gospel in spanish. What it boils down to is: I'm learning spanish to further the kingdom.
God doesn't see us as a bowl simply used to hold food or as an object that solely needs to be washed over and over again. He sees the deeper value. I eat food from that bowl which gives me energy and sustenance. The food that it holds is necessary for my health and keeps me alive. That bowl is precious to me. It has a purpose and an important role. As do we.
What are you created 'for?' Are you here simply to eat, breathe, and enjoy the world in which we live [por]? Or is there a deeper meaning and use for your life [para]? I believe God sees all of us with a knowledge of our potential and wants us to realize we're here for more than just surface level existence.
And the next morning I removed the bowl from the drying rack and with care put it back in its spot in the cupboard, ready to be used again.