The King’s Priceless Vessel

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, in an even further away palace, depending on the route you take, lived a king with all the things that kings have. Fancy things, shiny things, showy things, normal things, things, things, things. However, this is a simple story about one particular thing, a humble pot. To be honest with you, it was hard to tell what the pot was, was it a washbasin? Was it a bowl? Was it a trashcan? No one seemed to know, or care for that matter. We must simply refer to this thing as as the humble vessel. Well, I am getting ahead of myself, to the story!

The king, as we said, had lots of things but he found that many of those things were not very useful. So, he sent one of his various servants on a mission to find something that would be useful.

The king’s servant searched high and low across the great kingdom. He brought fancy goblets that boasted of great feasts. Yet the king was not satisfied with goblets. They just sat there; they were only there for feasts. And so back on the road the servant went. The servant was confused, what could the king want? Surly, he must want more shine, more bling. The goblet, though fancy, did not shine.

The king’s servant had an idea. He would spread news across the land that he would pay a large sum of money to the person that could bring him the shiniest, fanciest, most specialist, and  brightest bowl. And so people hoping to get a fast buck lined up for days. The servant decided that he would wash each bowl up real nice and look into the bowl. Whichever bowl showed his reflection the best would win. It was the fifth day of bowl shining and face looking and the servant was exhausted but then he saw it, he saw the bowl. Sure enough, when he shined the bowl up he could see his reflection, it was just like looking into a mirror, and this bowl even had rubies on the side of it, big ones!

The servant, in his haste and excitement leapt out of his seat and bumped a stack of bowls that he had on the table, crash! Every last one of them broke, and in nearly a million pieces. So the servant had to buy a stack of broken useless bowls, a very very expense fancy bowl, and an odd shaped vessel (known to us as “the humble vessel”) of some sort to put all the of broken pieces into.

The servant quickly swept up the shards of bowls spewed across the floor and dumped them into the humble vessel. He also gingerly wrapped the fancy bowl in layers and layers of cloth and placed it gently inside. Then he picked up the humble vessel with all the bowls, or I should say, broken bowls inside. He noticed that the handles on the container were in just the right spot and it was made of just the right material to  be both durable and light.

On the way back to the palace, the broken bowls looked at the fancy bowl and admired it. They were impressed by the fancy bowl. They said the fancy bowl was the best bowl ever, it was just so impressive looking. The fancy bowl agreed. It was glad it was so shiny and it was glad it had pretty rubies and it was glad that the other bowls thought it was great, but most of all, it was glad it did not have to do what the larger humble vessel had to do. In fact, it told the other bowls that it was glad that it didn’t have to carry them all around. The broken bowls all agreed, but they didn’t stop there. They said, Even though we’re broken and not as good as we used to be, we’re still better and more important than this humble vessel that has to carry us.

The large humble vessel heard the other bowls talk about him. He was saddened and hurt by what they said, but he went on because he was bringing the kings treasure to him. When he thought about that, that he got to serve the king, it put a little skip in his step. He was overjoyed to serve the king of the great land, no matter what that service was.

At last the servant arrives, the journey is finally through. He walks into the kings throne room confident that he has found just what the king is looking for. He places the humble vessel down that has carried the others the whole way and pulls out the fancy, shiny, glowing bowl, and over the king walks. He exclaims, That is perfect, that is what I need, that is what I want! It is just right! Thank you, good servant. You did well. And the servant with a sigh of relief goes to hand the king his prized bowl. The bowl slips between the king’s hands and falls crashing to the ground. The king picks up the neat humble vessel (without noticing “the priceless bowl” crash to the ground), This is what I need, something I can use. This thing will be trusty. I have so many things but I need something that can be a trash can, be a laundry container, be, be… this container! Good job servant, you found just what I wanted. This is truly priceless.

As the servant swept up the very expensive, once very fancy bowl (that was no longer a bowl at all), he learned something. The king may want things we would not think he would want. He may not want to use fancy things that think they’re something special, or that the world thinks is special. He may be happy to simply use useful things that are glad to be useful, regardless of what they’re doing, simply because they’re serving the king.


About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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