The Vase

A woman was flying home from a Paris shopping spree with a priceles antique vase. The airliner started into some turbulence and even in the First Class section, she could feel the plane bucking and lurching. The woman jumped up to get the box containing the vase out of her carryon bag and clutched it tight as the plane fell thousands of feet and crashed into the ocean.
Somehow she continued to cling to the parcel as she miraculously exited the plane and got into a small inflatable life raft with the six other survivors. None of the others had been able to save anything off the plane before it sunk to the bottom. Out of nearly 300 people on board the plane, these seven alone survived.
The life raft had caught on an ocean current and within hours, they were many hundreds of miles from the site of the crash. They had no provisions to be exposed on the ocean for long, and they began to fear that they, too, would be lost.
“I don’t care,” said one of the survivors as he wept. “I don’t care to live now that I have lost my wife and kids on that plane. My spirit died with them.”
Another moaned with his pain, “I want to get back so I can be with my family. They depend on me for everything. It was hard for me to leave them even for these two weeks. What will happen to them if I die?”
“I must get back,” said another. “I had an argument with my husband before I left, and I must tell him how sorry I am and how much I love him! I can’t die without his forgiveness.”
Another showed little emotion as he said, “My business will fail if I die. I must get back. That business has been my whole life for forty years. If it fails, my life has been meaningless.”
The woman with the vase said, “I WILL get back so I can cherish my priceless vase in my own home for many years to come. My friends will be so envious of my precious possession!” And she clutched the box and gently stroked it, thinking about how much she loved her vase.
A little while on, the raft started taking on water. There was no sight of shore, and they knew that they were drifting further and further from the crash site where the rescuers would be looking for survivors. The rescue crews probably thought that all had been lost, and were not even looking for a life raft full of people. The businessman took charge. “No one is going to help us out here. If we are going to survive, we must save ourselves. We need to bale out our boat and find a way to land. Does anyone have a compass?”
The man whose family had been lost fished around in his pocket and drew out a Swiss army knife with a tiny compass on it. Then someone saw a group of gulls flying overhead, heading east. They discussed whether or not the birds were flying toward land or away from it, and with the compass, they decided that the birds were headed toward land. They needed to bale out the boat and paddle with all their might toward the east.
The businessman turned to the rich woman and said, “We need your box so we can bale the water. “ But the woman clutched the box more tightly and said, “No, the vase may get chipped if it is out of the box!”
The others tried to reason with the woman, explaining that if they all died in the sea, it wouldn’t matter if the vase got chipped. But the woman protested louder, “NO! Even if I die, someday someone will find my beautiful vase and know that it belonged to me, and they will envy me and know I was important!”
The others begged the woman. All they wanted was to make shore, and they could if they had the box to bale with. Even the man who had lost his family begged her for the sake of the others. But the woman clutched the box and the vase with all her might. They tried to pull it away from her, but her selfishness was stronger than their weakened bodies.
Three miles from shore, when they could already see land but were too weak to swim, the little life raft sunk beneath the salty water and all aboard perished.
On the way to the bottom, the vase slipped out of the box and was broken to pieces on a rock.
Too many of us Christians are like that woman. We have put so much of our love into the things we own, and so little into the people around us, that we would rather see them all perish than to give up even the smallest of our treasures, however unessential it is to us, and however useful it would be to someone else. Fewer still are willing to design our budgets and our lifestyles to accomodate sacrificial giving.
Jesus called us to a different life, a life of sacrifice and love. Don’t lose your soul in order to keep your hold on all that stuff!
"But Abraham said to him, 'Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.'" Luke 16:25
Then Jesus said to the disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? For I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of my Father with his angels and will judge all people according to their deeds. Matthew 16:24-27
Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. Matthew 6:19-21
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life. But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then. Matthew 19:29-30
And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? Luke 16:11
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:10
"What sorrows await you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. What sorrows await you who are satisfied and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger is before you. Luke 6:24-25

The Vase
Copyright 2001
Foot of the Cross Publications