One of these days you should wander into an art classroom at LuHi and watch our talented ceramics students. You’ll see that a beautiful piece of pottery is not created by chance, but is dependent on many fine details: the malleability and composition of the clay, the deftness of the artist’s hands, the humidity and temperature of the kiln, and of course, the skill of the master’s hands.
Have you ever felt like a piece of clay? High school can be rough. It’s easy to feel lumpy, unfinished and plain. It’s a lot of pressure to choose friends, classes, activities and life paths. It’s difficult to imagine the unique piece of pottery you can be before you even know your identity. That must have been how the nation of Israel was feeling when God told the prophet Jeremiah to speak to them.
Israel had an interesting story with God. God specially chose them as his nation, rescuing them from slavery, miraculously providing food and water for them in the desert, leading them to the Promised Land, giving them a place to live, and unconditionally loving them. Yet they were constantly complaining, worshiping other idols, ignoring his laws, and the list goes on. But after yet another talk with Jeremiah about Israel’s sin problem, God didn’t give up on them. Instead, he gave the prophet this beautiful picture:
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel” (Jeremiah 18:1-6).
God gives us the whole truth: we are marred. We are flawed, useless lumps of clay outside the hands of a Master Potter. But the good news is that we’ve been in his skilled, loving hands this whole time. Just as God chose Israel, he chose us. Just as he didn’t give up on Israel, he doesn’t give up on us. He sent his Son Jesus to the cross to redeem us from being hard rocky soil into soft, workable lumps of clay, each with a unique beauty and purpose.
Now our challenge is to surrender to the Holy Spirit. He is the Living Water running deeply through us, and if we surrender, we can be fluidly shaped and molded into pieces of pottery for his glory. “He will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; he will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Questions for reflection:
- Are there areas in your life that feel tough and un-malleable? What keeps you from trusting God with them?
- What needs to be re-shaped, re-formed, or maybe even cut off?
- Is there a part of your character that God seems to be working on? (Hint: it most likely will not feel easy and comfortable.)
- How have you seen God’s artistry in you as you’ve been shaped?
A final step God desires an honest relationship with you. Spend time in prayer and be vulnerable with him. Tell him your needs. Ask for forgiveness. And trust that even when you feel incomplete, you are becoming a beautiful work of art!