Thursday, November 15, 2012

In The Potter's Hands

"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. ...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." Jeremiah 18:4,6

Beautiful pots always start with a chunk of shapeless clay. The first step in making pots is to prepare the clay. It is kneaded back and forth, back and forth, with the heel of the hands of the potter, until it forms a smooth ball. Next it is pulled, stretched, pressed, smoothed, and rolled into the shape of the pot that the potter desires.

I admit that I am a marred piece of clay. My Heavenly Father is the Potter. Just like that clay in the hand of the potter, so am I in the Lord's hands.

If we want to be honest, I think we would admit that we spend a whole lot of time in the kneading hands of the Potter. There seem to be particular seasons in life where the pressure of His shaping hands is felt more than the hand of His blessing. It is so important to God that we become even, pleasing, well-formed, and purposeful, that His infinite love will allow us to be very uncomfortable.

We are kneaded and stretched in many different ways. A difficult work situation. A fight with a spouse. A disobedient child. An aging parent. People talking about us. Feeling offended. Thinking life isn't fair. We may have more month left at the end of the money. But God tells us that He is shaping us as it seems best to Him.

Human clay is not passive, as is the clay of the earthly potter. When we are being kneaded and stretched, we can respond. Therein lies our choice. While God is sovereign in His work, He is responsive to our wills. We can choose to live by our emotions and feelings, giving way to anger, bitterness and resentment. Or, we can choose to respond in love. We can choose to return evil for evil or overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) We can choose to renew our mind with the Word of God and obey it, or we can choose to conform to the patterns of the world. (Romans 12:2) We can choose fear or faith.

I believe the more right choices that we make, the less time we will spend on the potter's wheel. The children of Israel turned an eleven day journey into a 40 year trip, around the same mountain over and over and over again with their grumbling, complaining and disobedience.

Are you pliable in the Potter's hands, or are you hard and cracked? Are you concentrating more on the pressure of His hands, or on the loving touch of them? If a piece of clay is pliable, it is much easier and faster for the potter to mold it into shape. If it is hard and cracked the Potter won't stop -- He will just continue to knead and press until it is just as He wants it to be.

The making of a beautiful pot doesn't stop with the kneading process. The pots are then fired. They are put into a kiln or furnace. These are the real pressures of life. The marriage fails. The child rebels. The job is lost. The eviction notice comes in the mail. They ruin your reputation. The doctor's report says it's cancer. This is where total surrender to the Potter is the only rational choice to make. When it comes to God it is perfectly appropriate to say, "I give! Take it all! Take control of it all! There is nothing left of me." Isn't that just the response He wanted from you all along? Self-sufficiency may impress men but it doesn't impress God. Our feeble strength is no match for the strength He can give. The more helpless we are, the more God can show His power.

Show God that you trust in Him completely. Repent of your sins and thinking you can take care of yourself, or that you can solve your own problems. Stop relying on yourself and men - start relying on God. He knows what He's doing. Isaiah 29:16 says, "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"? Of course not - He knows everything! He is our Creator, and is the only one who can control our lives without destroying them.

Fall limp in the hands of the Potter. Be pliable and moldable no matter what comes. God says in Isaiah 30:15, "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."

An assessment of a finished pot should reveal an even thickness of the walls, a pleasing form, well-joined pieces, and it should be made for a designated purpose.

I am making a determined decision to be a pliable piece of clay in my Potter's hands beginning today. I have been on the wheel a lot lately, and God's light has shown on many dark places I still have in my heart. He has made me acutely aware of the ugliness of my sins, great and small, in His sight. But He has also let me know that those lessons learned were the exact reasons that I've been on the wheel. I believe that He is evening me out, and smoothing my rough edges. He is giving me a pleasing form in His sight. He is imparting to me His strength to keep my pieces well-joined so they don't come apart under pressure. And He is daily showing me the designated purpose for my life.

Repent - Rest - Be Quiet - Trust

We will always be marred to some degree until Jesus comes and we are made just like Him. But in the meantime, being moldable and pliable in the Potter's loving hands will cause Him to stand back from His finished product and say, "Ah...You are now a vessel of honor fit for my use."