Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

God Uses Cracked Pots (Part 1 of 2)

God Uses Cracked Pots (Part 1 of 2)

Speaker Patsy Clairmont humorously shares how her personal flaws, mistakes and struggles demonstrate how God's light shines best through the cracks and broken places in our lives. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: July 12, 1989



Mrs. Patsy Clairmont: There are days when I wake up and I say, “This is the day that the Lord hath made.” And there are other days I wake up and I got, “This is the day that the Lord has made? Doesn’t feel like it.” There are days I wake up and I say, “I don’t feel like gettin’ out of this bed,” so for years I didn’t.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Today on “Focus on the Family” Patsy Clairmont shares how she overcame years of agoraphobia that literally left her bedridden. Now God had bigger plans for Patsy, as you’ll hear today and your host is Focus president, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: And of course, agoraphobia, John, is the fear of the outside world, just leaving your home. And Pasty eventually not only overcame that fear, but she was speaking in large stadiums and smaller venues, including leading a Bible study at the Pentagon. Once you hear Patsy’s story, you’ll understand just how amazing those accomplishments really are. This message from Patsy is one of our most popular programs of all time and we wanted to feature it as part of our 40th anniversary celebration. So, John, let’s get it going.

John: All right, here’s Patsy Clairmont, speaking at a women’s retreat just after she published her first book, God Uses Cracked Pots.


Patsy Clairmont: Well, Les and I–my husband and I–have been married forever. (Laughter) Any of you been married forever? (Laughter) Ah-ha!! Almost all of you. Hard to think of a time when you weren’t? Yes, I know. My husband says, “Amen to that, sister.” I married him when I was but a child. (Laughter) I married him when I was 17. I was going to marry him when I was 16 but decided to wait until I matured. (Laughter) We talked that over recently and realized had we waited for that moment to arrive, I could still be single (Laughter)and so would he. For we’ve learned that maturity is not an age you attain, but it’s an ongoing responsiveness to the voice of God. And so, there is never an age that we reach thatwe do not yet need to incline our ear and hear the Spirit of God speak to our life, for He desires to be doing that inner work within us until we step into His presence.

Well, Les and I have two sons. We have Marty, who is 23, and Jason, who is 14. We don’t believe in rushing into anything. (Laughter)Actually, Jason was a surprise. Surprise! (Laughter) I said, “You’ve gotta be kidding! I’m too old for surprises.”(Laughter) Well, to give you an idea, I mean, Jason has brought such sunlight into our home. And to give you an idea of what he’s like, I’ll tell you what happened to him when he was 7.

I sent him off to school one day and a little while later, there was a (Sound of knocking) knock at the door. And I opened the door, and it was Jason. I said, “Jason, what are you doing here?” He said, “I’ve quit school.” (Laughter) I said, “You’ve quit school? You’re 7-years-old. You’ve quit school? Why have you quit school?” He said, “Well, it was too long, and it was too hard, and it was too boring.” (Laughter) I said, “Jason, you have just described life. Get on the bus.”

Audience: (Laughter and Applause)

Patsy: Well, I cannot tell you how many times the Spirit of God has had to echo that one back in the recesses of this mind, for there have been many times that I thought that a problem was too hard. I mean, too hard? He says He’ll never give us more than we’re able to bear without showing us a way of escape. And I say, “You’re not looking. This is hard, very hard. It’s lasting a long time. And if you want to know the truth, it’s getting boring.” And I hear the Spirit of the Lord say (Sound of smack), “It’s life. Get on the bus.” (Laughter)

I have been speaking for the last half-dozen years on the topic “God uses cracked pots, and I’m the visual aid” (Laughter) and I’m delighted to be that visual aid. I remember as I was traveling from California back to Michigan, the Lord gave me a picture in my mind. Some might say that is a vision. “Vision” makes God’s people nervous, so I say it was a colorful thing that took place in the head. (Laughter) And what I saw there on the screen of my mind was a pitcher, the type that you would pour milk from. Down the front of it was a large crack. I saw the Lord take His hand and scoop up light, and put that light down inside of that pitcher, and then cover the top of it. And then I heard Him ask me, “Patsy, where does the light shine through?” And I said, “Lord, the light shines through the cracks, through the broken places.” He said, “That is how I am most manifested in your life, not so much by what you do well naturally, but what I must accomplish in you supernaturally that others might know that I am.”

The reason that I can speak on cracked pots is probably already obvious to you (Laughter), but just in case, I’ll give you a little greater insight. My mother accepted Christ when I was 9-years-old, and that made a difference in our home. And there was a song on her lips, and believe me, that was an improvement, and we were delighted with the sounds coming forth from her life, but did not care to get too involved ourselves. We were standing back, waiting to see if this was truly real or if it was a passing phase of life.

And she walked faithfully with her God, and continued to, as each member of her family was drawn into the fold and that was a very exciting thing for us. But I first was introduced to Christ as a little girl in Sunday school and it seemed like the right thing to do, but I hadn’t the vaguest idea that it was supposed to mean I would change, and so I didn’t.

And when I got into my teenage years, I became wise. I don’t know where it comes from in teenage years (Laughter), but, all of a sudden, you know so much. (Laughter) For some of us, we cannot look up until we are so far down there isn’t any other direction for us to look and that was true in my life, as I made a succession of very poor choices that only complicated my need. For I did have a need: a longing, a loneliness. I had anger and pain. I had all of the things that all of us deal with at some level and to some degree.

And I tried to meet the needs in my life in other ways other than Jesus. And finally, I came to the end of myself, and coming to the end of me was the best thing that could have happened, because then I looked to Him. And I said, “Lord, I have nothing left to offer You but the ashes of my life.” And then I read in the Word of God where it says that He takes ashes, and He makes beauty. He takes something that is broken and seems useless and He begins to create it to be a vessel of honor and a vessel for His use.

Now, people, I was agoraphobic for a number of years. Sounds like part of the Ringling Brothers, doesn’t it? What it actually means is [that] I was a prisoner in my own home, held by the bars of my emotions. [I] lost about six years in emotional turmoil and struggle, paralyzed by fear. And people expect me to say, “And then I came to know the Lord and He set me free.” But the truth of it was, I came to know the Lord and then I became agoraphobic. Well, what in the world?! (Laughter) I didn’t read it that way. It said in here that I could have abundant life and that I should have joy and that overflowing. And see, it … it just didn’t seem to be working for me. I didn’t understand and I became to develop fears and when I would get one fear, I’d nurture that thing.

Now I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing, but I would give in to that fear. And when you’re not willing to face your fears and you begin to give in to it, it calls for a friend. Over here; she’s open and a whole group of fear (Laughter) moves in your life. You see, and then you’re afraid first of all of riding in a car. And then you’re afraid to leave home. And you’re afraid of hospitals and you’re afraid of doctors.

And you’re afraid to be all alone, and you’re just afraid of being afraid and it becomes a very limited lifestyle and certainly has no joy in it. And at this time, I was saying to my husband, “Honey, what you need in your life is to know Jesus.” (Laughter) He looked, and he said, “Why?” (Laughter) You see, that’s your first clue you might not be walking in quite the way that exhibits the power of God in your life, if they have to question why they need to follow Him as they examine your life.

Program Note

John: Patsy Clairmont on”Focus on the Family,” one of our 40th anniversary classic programs and you can get a CD of this message with extra content for a gift of any amount when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or request that at

End of Program Note

Patsy: Now He began to work in my life and I’ve gone from hiding away, afraid to come out of home, to flying across the country every weekend to speak to groups of people and lifting up the name of Jesus and proclaiming that He does set prisoners free. And He requires us to be part of our own healing and that’s what I’ve come to share with you this evening.

I would like to give you some steps that will help you to stabilize in the emotional responses of your life. Any of you bring any emotions with you? (Laughter) Hm? Hormones? Let me see. For those of you who understand what it is to have oceans of emotions, to be flooded with feeling and not knowing how to respond, may I help to give you some direction, as I am reminded once again myself, some principles from the Word of God. All of these start with the letter S. They are all action verbs. They all require our participation. For the Lord does not want us sitting in the stands saying (Sound of clapping), “Okay, God! Go get my life all together,” but He requires us to be part of it.

The first step is set your mind. Set your mind. Now, gals, there’s not one of us here that hasn’t set our mind. Is that not true? (Laughter) I’m not saying necessarily in the direction of our God, but have you not set your mind? Has not your parents, or perhaps your mate or a boss, a teacher, sometime in your life, said, “You will not do thus and so”? And in your heart, you said, “Oh, yeah? (Laughter)Watch this.” That is a mind-set. That is a determination in the mind with the will that you will do exactly as you say.

There are days when I wake up and I say, “This is the day that the Lord hath made.” And other days I wake up and I go, “This is the day that the Lord has made? Doesn’t feel like it.” (Laughter) There are days I wake up and I say, “I don’t feel like gettin’ out of this bed.” So, for years I didn’t. (Laughter) I don’t feel like washing these dishes and they mounted to the ceiling. (Laughter) I don’t feel like being nice and so, believe me, I wasn’t.

And I was such an unhappy, self-centered person and I would encourage you to begin to step out of the feeling level of your life and begin to become a woman of faith who says, regardless [of] how I feel, what I do will honor my Lord as much as I am able, that I will begin to respond in such a way that will show forth His loving-kindness, that will show forth His courtesy, that will show forth compassion, rather than becoming cynical and hard and calloused and resentful and bitter and angry and ornery.

Our youngest, Jason, taught us a lesson about a mind-set. He had, had a little scuffle with the Goliath in his life, and that’s his big brother. And he fell backwards over a stool–they called this fun?–and uh … fell backwards over a stool and caught his head on the edge of the wall and sliced it open. We had to take him in to emergency. And on the way in, Jason said, “Oh, Oh.” He said, “Is it bad? Is it bad?” I thought, “This is the first good thing about this injury; he cannot see it.” (Laughter) Somehow what you can’t see doesn’t seem to be quite as bad.

And I looked at it, and I said, “Well, your head’s still on.” I said, “Not too bad. Not too bad.” (Laughter) He said, “Well, well, what are they gonna do to me?”AndI said, “They’re gonna fix it.” And he said, “How?” I said, “Oh. (Laughter)They’re going to put it back together again.” And he said, “How?” (Laughter)I said, “Look, Jason, they’regonna stitch that thing shut.” (Laughter) He said, “Oh, Mom,” he said, “is it gonna hurt? Is it gonna hurt?” I said, “Probably. I don’t know.” (Laughter) I’d never had it done before. He said, “Well, what if it hurts more than I’m able to bear?” I said, “Then you’re gonna reach down inside of you, and you’re going to pull up your courage, because you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, and He tells us we can do all things through Christ Who will strengthen us.” So, if it starts to hurt more than you’re able to bear, I want you to reach down inside of you and pull up your courage.

Well, Jason got very quiet. We pulled up to emergency, went inside, put him on the table. The doctor checked him out [and] said, “Yes, sutures are necessary.” They brought in two nurses, one on each side of Jason–lest things get active (Laughter)–and the doctor began the cleansing and then the suturing. Well, it wasn’t long before they saw that, that doctor was really not needed for Jason, for he did not resist. He did not say, “Ouch,” or, “Don’t do that,” or “That hurts.” The child never said a word. And so, the nurses turned and were going to leave, and then they noticed there was someone else in the room that wasn’t doing well. (Laughter) So they put me in a chair, and they fanned me.(Laughter)

On the way out, the doctor said, “I cannot tell you what a privilege it was to work on a child like this.” And my husband turned and gave a look as if to say, “I wish I could say the same for his mother.” (Laughter) Well, I got to the vehicle. When we got inside, I said, “Oh, Jason, mother is so proud of you.” (Laughter)I said, “Did it start to hurt so bad you had to pray?” He said, “Oh, Mom,” he says, “I didn’t wait to pray. As soon as you told me, I prayed.” I said, “What a good idea.” (Laughter)

I wish I would’ve thought of that. (Laughter) I thought to myself, “What took this little boy from this cowering child who was saying, `Oh, oh, is it gonna hurt too bad?’ to this mighty little soldier who marched in there to get the job done?” And I realized that it was a mind-set–a determination to believe his God. And Romans tells us, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” I believe that’s Romans 8:6. If not, read the whole book; it’ll do you good. (Laughter)

And there are some of you that are uh … wounded, that feel as … as though you are bleeding and in need of some aid and some assistance.You’re feeling very shattered and fragmented and fragile and I would recommend, not a good doctor, but a Great Physician.

You know, often, I would go to Jesus, and, through those years where I struggled in my agoraphobia, and I would say, “Lord, if You love me, why don’t You just make me well?” And perhaps some of you have cried out in that way. “Lord, couldn’t you just make this better? It would make all of life so much easier, more pleasant, more honoring to You.” But we are unwilling to walk through at times and reluctant out of own natural inclinations to walk through really difficult places, because it does hurt, and we don’t realize that it’s through pain that we begin to learn some of our greatest lessons.

We need to begin to determine as part of the body of Christ, that we will be foundational women, that we will not be purposely flaky and flighty, because we don’t feel like being responsible. “Well, I can’t help it. This is just the way that I am.” (Laughter) That’s why Jesus came, to save us from that, “Just the way that I am” person. And we need that deliverance, don’t we? We need to learn how to set our mind.

Someone used a picture– and that helps me; I’ve got that kind of mind; give me a picture rather than a page of instruction and I’ll catch on a little easier–of a train. And the engine represented faith, and the caboose represented our feelings. He said, “What a lot of us have done is we’ve picked up the caboose and we’ve placed it in front of our faith. And now our faith can no longer make the progress that it would if we would get back in line.” And so, we must deliberately, by an act of our will, pick up our feelings and say, “Feelings, you do your thing. If you need to yell and scream, then you’re gonna do it back here all by yourself at the end of the train and when you’re done, you’ll find me up front walking as a woman of faith.” Tired of being dictated to by every whim that you have? I’m going to begin to discipline you and allow you to grow up. And what will happen is, that not immediately, but eventually your feelings will begin to follow your faith and they will enhance your walk of faith with Christ. We need to learn how to set our mind.

And then, next of all–and this is a two-part step–we need to seek godly counsel and settle our past. In seeking godly counsel, my encouragement to you is that you would pray that God would place a godly woman in your life. Now, we’re not supposed to judge each other, so how will we know? Well, He says, “Don’t judge, but you’re allowed to be fruit inspectors.” So, what you do is you go up, and you check out the fruit in their life, and you soon see if what they say lines up with how they act and how they walk.

And when you find that kind of person, then I say get a bushel basket and go to that fruitful tree and shake that thing and everything that falls, you put in that basket and go home and have a banquet. For that is part of the way that He brings us understand; [it] is not only by the way He is able to speak within us and through the living Word and through all of His handiwork, but He speaks from one person in the body of Christ to the other.

And sometimes He’ll send someone in our life that brings the worst out of us. Have you noticed that? “I’d be fine if it wasn’t for them. Well, I never act this way with other people.” (Laughter) If that wasn’t in us, it could have never come out. (Laughter) They just figured out which button to push. And it’s God’s way of exposing more of who we are that we haven’t faced yet. And we keep saying, “[It] must be their fault. I’d be a wonderful wife if he was a more cooperative and thoughtful husband. (Laughter) I am a loving mother if you’d obey.” (Laughter)

And so, sometimes, what happens is, we need some help to sort some of it out, because maybe we can even identify something, maybe we’ve got a whole glob of anger, and we don’t understand. “Well, I don’t know where this thing comes from. It just keeps poppin’ up. I don’t know. I think I’m fine, and then, all of a sudden, “Whoo!” all over somebody.” (Laughter) And so, He’ll bring someone in to help us identify and understand that, which takes us right into our next point, which is to seek that godly counsel and then settle your past.

See, first, you go for help willing to listen, and then you begin to resolve deep issues from your background, for a lot of us have damage from yesterday that controls the way we act today, and we don’t even understand that this spoiled or resentful little child that comes out of us in different situations was that same one back here that was hurt there, and that when we resolve this, a lot of us say, “Well, Paul says, `Forgetting those things which are behind, I press on.’” Paul never said, “Denying what I know took place.” See, it’s a resolving, because that’s God’s way. He doesn’t say, “Take all your yesterdays and push ’em down into the darkness.” He said, “No, bring all of who you are under My healing and redeeming light.”


John: Well, that’s a good place for us to press the pause button for this edition of “Focus on the Family.” We’re featuring Patsy Clairmont, who Jim, just seems to alternate between hilarious stories and then solid biblical ideas.

Jim: Well, we sure does, John and her advice is right on the money, so I want to remind those of you who are listening, that you can seek godly counsel by reaching out to Focus. We have caring Christian counselors here who are available to talk to you if you’re going through a painful time, a stress time, whatever it might be.

The beauty of Patsy’s message is, it is timeless and it connects and I’m sure it’s connected with many of you. Give us a call and we’ll have a counselor call you back as soon as possible.

If you’re doing well right now and perhaps Focus on the Family has helped you in the past, please consider giving to the ministry. We rely on your donations to be able to have this team of highly trained counselors here on the staff to help you and your family membersand everyone who calls and contacts us with a need. When you make a donation of any amount today, I want to send you the CD of Patsy’s complete message as our way of saying thank you.

John: And that CD includes quite a bit of extra content that I know you’ll enjoy. Donate and request a copy when you call 800-A-FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459 or at

And by the way, if you enjoyed today’s program, please tell a friend and listen in next time, as Patsy explains how to overcome pain from your past.


Patsy Clairmont: What is it that you’ve been dragging around with you year after year after year? May I remind you that when Jesus shed His precious blood on Calvary, He not only died for our sins, but for our shame.

End of Excerpt

John: I’m John Fuller and on behalf of Focus president, Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. Join us again next time, as we once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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