Mary and Joe treasured the many happy times in their marriage, perhaps because, in retrospect, tragedy intruded so often. They surely faced more than their fair share of sickness, financial problems and accidents. And what with Joe Jr.'s ill-fated trip down drug alley, well, life hadn't been all that easy. Countless times they couldn't help but wonder why them?
Now, they were ready to take off on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary trip. A planned visit to Norway where Mary's maternal grandparents had been raised. For five years, they put aside a little money each week and it kept growing. Not enough to make a big splash but neither would they have to scrimp for the whole trip.
So it was that one morning they spotted a back-street curio shop in downtown Oslo. And, inside on a side shelf, sat a charming antique teapot. Joe carefully took it down, blew off a couple imaginary specks of dust and handed it to Mary. Both marveled at its fragile design; the warm rich tones. Mary couldn't help gushing, "What a great souvenir of our trip this would make! Mr. Teapot, you're beautiful!"
Then the impossible happened. In a humble, yet rich tone, the teapot responded, "Thank you. But I'm sure you know I haven't always been this beautiful,
"In fact, for millions of years I just managed to survive on the edge of that desolate clay pit just north of here. It really took a lot out of me. In the summer I baked. In winter, nearly froze to death. And when the spring floods came, I almost drowned. All the time I was out there, I prayed to the Lord to take me from that place. But all he ever said was, 'No. No. Not yet.'
"Then one day a man came along with a huge shovel and nearly sliced me in half. After a while he threw me into a wagon and carted me off to his workshop. Once there, he pressed me back together again. Then he pounded me out on the table. Crushed me in his huge hands. And then pounded me some more. It hurt. Hurt real bad. So bad I asked God to make him stop. But God only said, 'Trust me. Trust me for a while longer.'
"After what seemed like an eternity, the man did stop. But then he began to dig into my sides with a sharp knife while he spun me around on a big machine. I got so dizzy, I could hardly see. The pain became so intense, I screamed for the Lord to take me off. But he calmly replied, 'Be patient for just a little while longer.'”
"The man finally stopped and I thought my Miseries were over. But little did I know! Next he shoved me into a small brick oven and made it hotter and hotter. Before long, it dried up all the fluid in my body. I became hard as a rock, barely able to squeak out a plea for relief. But the Lord showed no mercy, 'Your time is not yet,' is all he would say.”
"Anyway, the man finally took me out of the oven and put me on a shelf. Peace at last: So nice and warm and cozy. But then one noon took me down again and spent a couple days painting me with vile-smelling liquids. It got so bad. I could hardly breathe. And God didn't help at all. 'I know what's best,' he told me.”
"I thought that was surely the end of it. But the man hardly finished with the smelly stuff, when it was back into the oven again. Only this time, it was twice as hot as before. And now I really became hard as a rock. Good thing, too, for he had made me so thin. Somehow I managed to bear it better this time. Perhaps because God encouraged me. 'Your time is almost here.'"
"When the man took me out of the oven, he treated me like an entirely different creature. So kind and gentle. Even wrapped me in a soft cloth when he carried me off to his store. That was the night God finally let me see myself in a mirror. And how I'd changed! From an ugly lump of clay into a fine china teapot. This time God told me, 'I know how much this must have hurt you. But there was no other way to make you as beautiful as you could be.'"
The talking teapot would have remained Mary and Joe's little secret except for Bible study the following Sunday covering Jeremiah 18:1-6.
(From the book “One Message, Many Messengers” by Bob Jurgen, father of Pastor Dean)