I remember the first time I met brother Rocky. I was so desperate to find purpose and meaning. I longed to find fulfillment, so I went. Had I not been so desperate, I never would've attended such a place.
"Hi. Welcome, my name is Rocky, Rocky Vase." "Hi, my name is Stony Vessel." "It's good to have you here today Stony. How did you hear about us?" "Oh, Crack Pot invited me. We work together, and he said if I want to get filled up, this is the place." "Oh, Crack Pot! He's a good man. He sure is a character." "Yes, he is. Uh, I haven't seen him. Is he here yet?" "Oh, he doesn't come very often; maybe once a month or so."
"Well Stony, come in and find your place. If you're looking for fulfillment, then you've come to the right place. This is the church of religious service, and as you can see, that void in you means that you were fashioned for religious ritual and ceremony. Just take your place here at the end of the line, and you can begin to find your purpose."
It was then I began to feel that I had finally found that which would bring fulfillment, so I gave myself wholly to my new found occupation. There at the end of the line, next to the other vessels, I experienced what they had described to me, but it wasn't quite what I had expected. Yes, they poured water in, but I never felt full, and it always left me with a cold chill. They told me that I can't go by feelings; I just have to believe to be true that which is written. So, I pressed on "in faith".
Every time the holy men would pour in the water, they left it soiled by their touch, and with every new filling, washing, and emptying, I only felt more chilled, more soiled, and emptier than before. In time, I moved up from number six to number two, and with each move, came more of the burden of the ministry to which I felt called. At times, when emptied and put away, I reflected on it all, and I had to admit that I never found in it that which I was seeking in the beginning. I felt there had to be something more. I only felt dirty, empty, and very very dry.
Eventually, the cracks in me grew so that I could no longer hold water, and I was set aside. It was both a great loss as well as a relief. Though I was constantly dry, I no longer felt the personal abuse of having men soil me with religious ceremony and ritual. At least I was free from the ritual that only intensified the pangs of my longing for more. Every new experience; every new place in line, only served to deepen my sense of emptiness and push further from my horizon the hope of finding that for which my heart longed in the beginning. Now, at least I could forget, and that eased the bitter pangs of hope deferred.
The years passed, and I sat in darkness and solitude, until that day when everything changed. Suddenly, the darkness was shattered and busy voices rushed into my darkened room. I squinted to see the figures to which the voices belonged, but my eyes wouldn't adjust. Four hands grabbed me, toppled me, and almost violently lifted me up. My world seemed upside down, and I felt completely out of control. They carried me to a room filled with people and set me up in line, like before. My eyes began to adjust to the light as I gained my bearings, and there before me He stood. It was Him, the one I had heard about, but had never seen: the promised Messiah. Oh, He was so different than I had imagined... so different from my concepts, but oh, so beautiful.
He was standing looking at me. His eyes were like fire in determination and love. I had been told that He saw me, and I had imagined it in my mind, but now it was reality. I could see Him gazing at me, and I new that He could see me looking at Him.
Then, He opened His mouth and uttered a word, and Oh, the impact of that word! It brought a deluge of living water to my being. I felt the depths of my own emptiness as the waters from His command began to fill me. The delight of those rushing waters was beyond description. I began to feel full, and the splash of the waters soaked my stone surface, deepening its color and intensifying the sparkling reflection of light from the multicolored minerals of the granite. The filling was almost beyond what I could stand, yet so wonderful and delightful that I only seemed to open wider to taste and to drink more fully.
I sat for some time awash in the light of His countenance and so whelmed with His love. I was soaked inside and out, and I felt full and clean for the first time ever. "This", I said, "Is what my heart longed for all along."
It seemed He stood before me for ages. Each time I looked to Him, He seemed to step closer, and as He did, it was like a veil fell from my eyes. Each time I would see a new and higher aspect of His beauty and glory, and with each new revelation, I somehow changed to conform to that glory.
At times, I would view my stone exterior and survey the other vessels nearby. As I examined myself or the others, that old chill, and that empty feeling would come over me again, and each time, in desperation, I would return my gaze to Him, my Beloved. Each time, without fail, the warmth of His love would fill me anew, and I would see His smiling face as He looked at me. Oh, that look! His eyes! What it means for His eyes to be fixed on me... I can find no way to express.
With each new unveiling of His person, and with each step closer that He took, I found a higher sense of existence and meaning, and I began to long to pour out to others what He had poured into me. I felt others needed what I had, and I became concerned with the other broken vessels who sat empty, in darkness, and in need of living waters. I tried to pour out, and I tried to direct the gaze of others to Him. Yet, I found myself strangely unable to do either to any significant degree, at least from my perspective.
One day, He drew oh so very near. He stood, and gazed down from directly over me with His face so near. It was as though I were looking at His face as if looking at my own in a mirror, and it was as though He were looking deep into my being and smiling as though He were viewing His own face in a mirror. I could see that what He saw brought him great delight, and what He saw was not me, a stone vessel, but His own reflection on the surface of water that had been turned to wine. He was so near. He was inside of me and I was inside of Him, and Oh, the wonder of that union. We were at last one. The incessant cry of my heart became, "I am my Beloved's, and He is mine!"
Then came His word once again, and as He stood nearby, the servants dipped the ladle and drew from my inner most being living waters that had turned to wine. I felt virtue go out from me, and I knew that it was His life going forth to bless and cheer others. I watched as they carried the wine to the joyful crowd, expecting all to drink. One by one, the servant passed them by, making his way through a busy crowd that almost seemed indifferent to the treasure he bore in their midst. My heart began to sink as I saw him pass by one after another, making his way completely through the crowd to the nether part of the room, and not a single person had been allowed to drink.
Then, as I watched in amazement, the servant carried the water to the great power in charge of the feast. What would He do with the wine? Would He distribute it to His guests? The servant lifted the ladle to the governor, and He put it to His nose and smelled deeply. He closed His eyes and seemed to let out a long deep sigh. He then placed the ladle to His lips and tasted. A smile broke out across His face and His eyes opened filled with laughter and a twinkle of moisture. He turned to the Bridegroom, and smiled. He called Him near, took Him by the hand and with a smile said, "This is the best wine." I knew deep within that the fragrance of the wine was the fragrance of His Son, in whom the Father delights, and I could see that what tasted so sweet to the Father was the savor of His Son. His Son is what brings cheer to the Heart of the Father, and to the guests at His wedding feast, and it is the joy that this New Wine brings to the Father that fills me with the wonder and the fulfillment of finding my destiny in the great purpose of the Father that He had purposed from the beginning, and that is, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."