One day the village parson took a different route to work. Arriving at a particular shop, he peered through the window, then entered the studio. It was a pottery-making enterprise, and the first thing the parson noticed was the blast of heat that hit him as he walked through the door. It was from the large kiln attached to the external wall of the shop. Workers were carefully arranging clay objects in the oven, firing them, seasoning them for use.
His attention was quickly drawn to an old man sitting at the potter’s wheel, spinning it skillfully by foot pedals and forming a piece of pottery with his experienced fingers. The man was making a drinking vessel with strange lines and ridges and indentations. Pausing, the man slowed the wheel and looked at his creation. It was marred and unsatisfactory. Suddenly the potter smashed the clay into a ball, dipped his hand into a water jar, applied a new coat of moisture, and started working again.
The man turned and left and saw everywhere signs of violence, immorality, filth, poverty and moral failure. Then this thought came to the man (Jeremiah) from God Himself: “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!” (Jeremiah 18:6) The prophet Jeremiah gained a new perspective on God’s work among His people and a new sense of hope in the Master Potter who can form and reform our life.
This is an apt metaphor for God’s work in our life because we are, in a literal sense, pottery. We’ve been formed from clay. God physically shaped Adam from the clay of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. Job’s friend Elihu said in Job 33:6, “I also have been formed out of clay.”
But the Bible also tells us that God wants to shape us inwardly, to spiritually fashion us into vessels fit for His use. The apostle Paul says God wants to form us into “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
His hands form us
First, His hands form us. They are skilled hands, knowing wisely how to sculpt us into Christ’s image. God’s hands are on your life, and He knows how to skillfully apply pressure, how to relax His grip, how to score your life with His fingernail, how to squeeze and nudge – all of it designed to make you a vessel fit for His use. Sometimes He even places us in the kiln where the fires of life turn us into more solid vessels for His use.
Our Heavenly Father wants to use the events we encounter each day as tools with which to shape and sculpt us into the image of Christ. He wants to deepen our faith, to develop within us the quality of perseverance, and to make us watertight containers of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
If you’re under some sort of pressure right now, visualize the skillful hands of the divine Potter using it for good in your life. You can trust His dexterous and expert fingers not to harm, but to help you.
His hands are re-forming
Second, the Potter’s hands are re-forming. As the prophet watched the potter in the story in Jeremiah 18, he saw that the clay seemed marred. Pausing, the potter just squeezed the clay into a new lump and started to re-form it as he pleased.
Sometimes we think we’re unusable, unredeemable. We’ve done something for which we feel shame and guilt, and we think God can no longer do much with us. But when we bring our sin to the Lord, confess it earnestly, nail it to the cross of Christ, and surrender it to the power of His shed blood, God can take our sins and shame and spin them into a design that glorifies Him.
Think of the forming and re-forming hands of the Master Potter who is crafting you and me into vessels of honor fit for the Master’s use. Visualize your life as the studio of the divine Potter and know that His hands are on your heart. Ask God to have His own way in your life as He forms – and re-forms – you into His wonderful image.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.)