Jeremiah 18:5, NIV
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Sitting on my shelf is a mug without a handle. No, the handle isn’t broken, it just never existed in the first place. At the age of 11 I was really proud of this mug. It had been shaped on a wheel in pottery class at school by my own hands, without anyone else’s help. It is hardly ‘fine china’! The walls of the mug are so thick you would find it difficult to drink out of it. Putting a handle on it was way beyond my skill level at the time.
And so it remained – a fired clay mug without a handle, glazed in a dull grey colour and singularly unattractive and unusable. But when I look at that mug today, I can still remember the joy I had when I showed that ‘ugly mug’ to my Mum and Dad and gave it pride of place. It was beautiful, it was mine and no-one was going to tell me what it really looked like! Mum and Dad played the part magnificently! And what’s more, inscribed on the bottom of the mug and fired into permanence by the heat of the kiln, is my name. It unquestionably belongs to me.
There is a huge difference, however, between a trophy mug such as that, which is shaped in a few minutes before being put in a kiln and our lives. The vessel of our lives is constantly being formed on the wheel of life. The wheel never stops spinning until that day when the ‘clay’ is taken off the wheel, and the vessel is fired in the kiln of eternity? As the wheel of life spins we have the capacity with our free will (something real clay can never have) to either resist the hand of the Master Potter and make what WE want of the vessel or to humbly submit to the Potter’s loving hands and say, “Lord, make of me what YOU will.”
As I read our Scripture afresh today, I began to ask myself whether I would be satisfied with what came out of the kiln if the Great Potter were to take me off the wheel of life today? It was a very salutary few moments. In Jeremiah 18 God is warning the people that if they continue to mess up their lives (and nation) the day will come when he will forcibly destroy what they have made on the wheel of life. It’s always a tragedy when God’s judgment falls in this sort of way. But God is merciful, and very long-suffering, and His patient voice comes down the centuries today, to say to you, ‘let me remake the vessel of your life in a better way, while there is still time.’ All that is required is humble repentance, followed by acceptance of what He then does with our lives as a result.
What wonderful news – the Master Potter is always waiting to apply his firm and loving hands to the clay of our lives and reshape them according to His loving purposes. And then He wants to inscribe His name on the clay as a sign of who we belong to. What an opportunity! What security! What a Saviour!
Prayer: I am sorry, Lord, for the times when I have wilfully resisted your loving hands. I invite you now to apply the pressure of love on my life and reshape me in the way you know is best for me. Thank you Jesus. Amen.