Molded Clay

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 17:19-27; 18; 19; 20

The potter scooped a lump of clay from the earth. His mind was filled with ideas for the vessel he would create. After preparing the clay, he centered it on the pottery wheel and eagerly delved into his new creation. As he continuously moistened and molded the wet, spinning clay, the picture he could see in his mind slowly began to take shape between his hands. But then the vessel began to wobble and sway, resisting the potter's control, until it caved in on its side. Because a pocket of air had formed within the clay to make it unstable, the pot collapsed into a ruined heap. Instead of throwing it away, the potter carried the spoiled vessel to a table, where he kneaded it like dough. Then, stepping back to the wheel, he began working again with the same piece of clay. Undaunted, his eyes never left his unfolding creation as he purposefully shaped the clay into a unique expression of his own heart and soul.

God is the potter; we are the clay. He wants us to remain pliable in his hands as he envisions and unfolds a unique shape and purpose for each one of us. "'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'" (18:6). We tend to resist being molded by our Maker and attempt to shape our own lives. We want to mold God into our image of him instead of getting to know and trust who he really is and allowing him to mold us into his own image. "You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'He did not make me'? Can the pot say of the potter, 'He knows nothing'?" (Is. 29:16). Because we don't understand what God is doing, we submit our own ideas to God and insist that we know, better than him, how our lives should turn out. "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker.... Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?" (Is. 45:9).

As much as we would like to get off the wheel and trade places with the potter, the wheel keeps on spinning and God keeps on shaping and planning. He doesn't give up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. He is not willing to discard us, even when we become "marred in his hand" (18:4). When our lives completely collapse and we think we are destroyed, he softens us with his grace and gently kneads away our pockets of resistance. He begins to form us into a new design, different than the one he was making before, but no less favored or useful. "So the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him" (18:4).

As God continually shapes us in the way that seems best to him, he gives us a warning and a vision. Though he already knows what we will choose, he waits for our response so that we, too, will know what we have chosen (18:7-12). He points out our misaligned priorities and trims away our impurities. When our lives are yielded to his hands and centered on his will/wheel, he skillfully shapes us into "an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Tim. 2:21). The light of Jesus, which God has placed in our hearts, shines out of "jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Cor. 4:8).

Lord, I lay down my resistance and yield my life to you. Cut away the "junk" that makes me unsightly. Knead out my hidden struggles that make me unstable and resistant to your will. Wash my heart with the soothing, softening power of your Holy Spirit. Keep me centered on your will as your image of me unfolds in your hands. Transform this lump of clay into a shining vessel that can receive and pour out your power and love. "O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand" (Is. 64:8).