“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.’
Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”—Jeremiah 18:1-4
Jeremiah 18 gets me thinking about the irony of God. Of course He’s not ironic to Himself, but to those of us with limited sight . . . not to mention the unbelieving world . . . .
Here’s what I mean: As God’s creation, we are literally jars of clay, Genesis 2:7:
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
But we are born flawed by sin, so God pounds us down on the wheel in order to reshape us according to His plan. To jars of clay, this looks and feels like destruction. But in reality, it is an act of re-creation. The value of a jar is not in the outward appearance, the label it bears, or how thick and strong the clay is, but in the empty space inside which determines the volume it can accommodate.
I believe God is reshaping me to be able to hold more of Him, thinning my clay walls as He does so. If I see a clay jar through human eyes, I think that the thicker the walls, the stronger the jar, but in reality, the jar will break just as easily as a thin-walled jar when dropped. What gives me my strength is not the condition or thickness of my flesh, but rather the Holy Spirit which fills that space.
Not surprisingly, it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the faith to see it through God’s eyes, but even then, it’s sometimes too difficult for us to accept. But here’s the crux: God only pounds the clay that is dear to Him, which is why James tells us in James 1:2-4:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing..”
This process of re-creation can be made all the more painful when believers allow their jars to become hardened. A process that is meant to last until we see The Lord, is stopped dead in its tracks when we begin to believe that we have arrived. This can happen as a result of age, status in the church, the receipt of Spiritual gifts, accumulation of knowledge, or any number of things. Its root is pride.
We have to remember that once a jar has been baked, it can no longer be stretched to hold more. The only way to get the process going again, is to crush the jar into dust and start from scratch. Ouch.
Humility and love prevent premature hardening. As clay, we must constantly be refreshed with The Living Water of The Holy Spirit. Not only to keep us pliable, but to give us the strength to endure the potter’s wheel.
I would have to say that, given the choice, I would choose to be pounded by a loving God than live the “good life” here on Earth. Even if it means losing someone I love. Because the hole left in my heart from the temporary loss of a loved one couldn’t possibly compare to emptiness of being permanently separated from my Father. I don’t even want to think of life without Him.
There is no life without Him.
So when the world calls me weak and asks me how I can believe in a God that “allows” such suffering, I can stand firm and say, “Because no one could love me more.”
God’s grace and peace be yours,