We do not need to understand why the Lord does certain things. Neither should we attempt to explain to others why He leads us as He does. As soon as the wine is settled and the lesson is learned, the gentle hand of the Maker will again pour it. How it sparkles and gleams with fresh yieldedness and obedience. Left behind are dregs of distrust and fear.
The next vessel is made from a mixture of vastly different materials. This vessel would never have been the choice of the wine. And worse, the wine was not asked as to how this vessel should be formed. This speaks of the circumstances in which we often find ourselves; in which we are not at all to blame for the situation.
This is the vessel of the “faults of others,” which is an awkward place in which to be. Some fail to do their duty. Others refuse to come or to go, as they should. Before we realize, we may be involved in a predicament quite to our disapproval.
Usually, we are willing to go through a trial when we are at fault; but for us
to be dragged into a plight, which is not of our doing, is to our flesh a real death. But consider: Who made this vessel? The Lord is not blaming the wine for the trial, nor for its make-up. The wine has only to yield and be poured into and fill the vessel. We are not to waste valuable time complaining to the Lord about the size, shape, color, and texture of this vessel, for He made it. Rather, we are to trustingly melt and flow into it as He intended.
Enough has been said concerning these vessels that we might expand on what they teach. Let us turn to another phase of truth that is given here; how the wine may act in being poured. In my own experience, and in watching others go through trials and testings, I have found three ways in which we may act.
First, we may submit to being poured, but with an unbroken spirit. The will is surrendered and the pouring continues, but we remain rigid and unbroken in spirit. Thus, the purpose of the pouring is lost. The soul retains its own shape and does not melt so the sediment might settle. This person has truly surrendered to the Lord’s will, yet has utterly failed in that his spirit is not broken.
Have you ever attempted to pour thick milk into a receptacle with a narrow neck? It is almost impossible, as the milk has become set and is incapable of yieldedness, or brokenness. The text tells us that because the wine was not emptied from vessel to vessel, it had “settled on its lees.” This is a Hebrew word which means to thicken or curdle. Some souls are so set that they become incapable of adjustment or change.
The question then is not, “have I been poured?” but rather, “have I become broken in spirit?” One may be poured into a hundred vessels and never learn the lesson of submission to the workings of the Holy Spirit. We must break in spirit as we are emptied, and as a result, there will be less agony, pain, and distress; for we will, with grace, melt and fill the vessel quickly.
Another reaction is to yield to the pouring, and find ourselves filling a number of different vessels. But we just endure it, as hidden away in our spirit is a “pout.” We recognize that the best thing is to yield and go through, but we do so by “enduring” and say, perhaps faintly, “Yes, Lord, I am going through, but I do not think it is fair, for you could have made it easier.”
We can consent in will, but do not break in spirit. Many are enduring the pouring, but never seem to learn the lesson. Let us break, and allow the dregs to settle.
The third and right way, is to not only surrender in will, but to break in spirit. This is so pleasing to the Lord. As we break in spirit we lose our “setness” and become pliable, flowing easily into the most intricate parts of the vessel. Here we are truly able to say, “I delight to do thy will, O God.”
Now, a word as to the reason for all this pouring and emptying – Surely God does not thrust us into such trying places to mock us. If we are consecrated, our lives are not our own to arrange as we please, in order to avoid these many pourings. Therefore, it is important that we recognize that our Lord has a purpose in emptying us from “vessel to vessel.” He is producing within us a broken, yielded spirit to prepare us for a higher purpose.
The second reason for pouring us out is to keep us from “settling upon our lees.” There is always the tendency for us to seek the easy way. We dislike disturbances and having to do things differently from the way we did in the past. It can rightly be said that “the road of least resistance is a rut.” Thus, if we are never poured from experience to experience, the wine will become spoiled and scented with dregs.
Do not be surprised if the Lord begins to pour you from the vessel in which you have been blessed, perhaps for months or even years. Because you are settling upon your lees, and since He is very particular of your relationship to Him, He may refine you yet more.
The third reason is to broaden us in our sympathy and understanding of each other. The one who has had but little trouble in life is not a particularly helpful person. But one who has gone through many trials, shattered hopes, and tragedies, has learned a valuable lesson. These who have learned through experience are of great value.
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4
These can enter into perfect fellowship with a person who is in unspoken agony of spirit and pressure of trial, and pray with compassion and understanding. They are able to look beyond the frailty of flesh, and remembering that we are but dust, are able to trust the Lord with a sublime faith for change and victory.
Some day soon, the last vessel will be filled and the last pouring finished. May it please the heart of our Lord to find in us choice wine; rich, sparkling and well refined, because by His grace we have been emptied from vessel to vessel.