The Potter’s Hand

Part one of “God’s Masterpiece”

 

Jeremiah 18:1-6

“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. (v. 4) 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.

(v. 5) Then the word of the Lord came to me: (v.6) “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”

 

God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

In 1502, in Florence, Italy there was a large block of marble given to a church in Santa Maria, the church immediately hired who they thought was a professional to sculpt this enormously huge piece of rock. The man was a professional and soon after commencing this great task the man drilled a hole right at the bottom destroying this magnificent piece of marble. So, the church decided just to drape a huge sheet over it not knowing what else to do, since it had been damaged beyond recognition and repair. A certain man, named Michangelo caught word of this large stone and how it has been destroyed, so out of curiosity he went to check it out and thought “Hey, I think I can do something here.” After a time he began work and sculpted; and what was once thought to be a lost cause became one of the greatest statues of the biblical character of David ever built.

Many people today feel like a gigantic slab of marble – perhaps battered and bruised – perhaps lacking substance – perhaps someone who has been discarded by certain people.

But, in the capable hands of the Lord God Almighty, we can be molded into something beautiful.

 

God – the Master Potter – has a way of taking the leftovers and making them something beautiful.

 

He is the potter; we are the clay. He is the shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the Master; we are the servants. No matter how educated we are, no matter how much power and influence we may think we possess, no matter how long we have walked w/ Him, no matter how significant we may imagine ourselves to be in His plans, none of that qualifies us to grasp why He does what He does when He does it and how He chooses to do it. God’s will is a way beyond our understanding, yet it is a way in which we are called to think and live.

 

God knows what He’s doing for all of us. He is the potter and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us, so that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing and perfect will.   

 

Today, as we study Jeremiah 18, we see three stages of the clay in the Potter’s Hand.

 

Stage 1: A picture of a marred vessel.

(v. 4) But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;

 

God uses the adversity and negative experiences in your life to mold you into Christlikeness.

 

A young man had been promoted to an important position in his company. He’d never dreamed he’d be in such a position, much less at such a young age. So he went to see the venerable old timer in the company, and said, "Sir, I was wondering if you could give me some ADVICE." The old timer came back with just two words: "Right decisions!" The young man had hoped for a bit more than this, so he said, "Thank you, that’s really helpful, and I appreciate it, but could you be a little more SPECIFIC? HOW do I make right decisions?"
The old man responded: "Experience." The young man said, "Well, that’s just the point of my being here. I don’t have the kind of experience I need. How do I GET it?" The old man replied: "WRONG decisions!"

 

It is not you who shapes God, it is God Who shapes you.

If, then, you are the world of God, await the hand of the Artist

Who does all things in due season

Offer the Potter your heart, soft and formable,

And keep the purpose in which He fashioned you.

Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard, and lose the imprint of the Potter’s hand.

 

We don’t enjoy the experiences in life that create scars.

The pain. The grief. The tears. The questions. The regret.

We find ourselves broken.

Could it be that brokenness is the first step toward being the individual God wants us to be?

David said as recorded in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.”

Perhaps our prayer should be: “Brokenness, brokenness, is what I long for. Brokenness is what I need.”

 

Stage 2: A picture of a vessel being reformed.

(v. 4) 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.

 

A new haircut place had opened up, and wanted to attract customers. So, they advertised a grand opening special: $ 7.00 haircuts. Well, this didn’t go well with their competition who was a few doors down from that strip mall. So they decided to put up a sign of their own that read, “We fix $ 7.00 haircuts.”

 

Sometimes, things need to be redone.

Like you and I.

God – the Master Potter – knows how to take the mistakes of life and reform it into something beautiful.

 

a) There is a divine presence at work in your life.

 

When you find yourself traveling down the road of life and finally allow the Lord to take the wheel, expect a u-turn.

 

b) There is a divine purpose at work in your life.

 

Sometimes, we get all mixed up with what our purpose in life is all about.

I’m reminded of the man who woke up one morning and found a puddle of water in the middle of his king size water bed. Well, he thought, “In order to fix the puncture, I have to take it outside, fill it with more water and locate the leak. What happened is that the bed started rolling on the hill right outside his house and it landed on a clump of bushes that punctured and poked numerous holes in the water bed. Disgusted, he threw it away – as well as the water bed frame. And he spent the next few hours taking his old traditional bed frame back into his bedroom. The next morning, he awoke to find a puddle of water in the middle of his new bed. The upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain.

 

Have you ever noticed that when you try to fix things that you’re not supposed to fix, you find yourself in a deeper mess?

There is a divine purpose at work in your life – let’s let the Lord take care of things.

 

c) There is a divine patience at work in your life.

We get frustrated in life when things do not happen on our time table.

 

I believe one of the areas our patience is tried is when we are driving. A young woman’s car stalled at a light. The light turned green. The car behind her actually had room to go around but didn’t. Instead the person in the car kept on honking the horn. After attempting to start the car, the young woman got out and went back to the honker’s car, and said, “Tell you what—you start my car, and I’ll sit back here and honk for you!”

 

I remember reading about a guy who stopped in the grocery store on the way home from
work to pick up a couple of items for his wife. He wandered around aimlessly for a while
searching out the needed groceries. As is often the case in the grocery store, he kept
passing this same shopper in almost every aisle. It was another father trying to shop with
a totally uncooperative three year old boy in the cart.
The first time they passed, the three year old was asking over and over for a candy bar.
Our observer couldn’t hear the entire conversation. He just heard Dad say, “Now, Billy,
this won’t take long.” As they passed in the next aisle, the three year old’s pleas had
increased several octaves. Now Dad was quietly saying, “Billy, just calm down. We will
be done in a minute.”
When they passed near the dairy case, the kid was screaming uncontrollably. Dad was still keeping his cool. In a very low voice he was saying, “Billy, settle down. We are almost out of here.” The Dad and his son reached the check out counter just ahead of our
observer. He still gave no evidence of loosing control. The boy was screaming and
kicking. Dad was very calming saying over and over, “Billy, we will be in the car in just a minute and then everything will be OK.”
The bystander was impressed beyond words. After paying for his groceries, he
hurried to catch up with this amazing example of patience and self-control just in time to
hear him say again, “Billy, we’re done. It’s going to be OK.” He tapped the patient father
on the shoulder and said, “Sir, I couldn’t help but watch how you handled little Billy. You were amazing.”
Dad replied, “You don’t get it, do you?” I’m Billy!”

The Lord is patient with you and I.

Could it be that we need to learn how to be patient with His work in us?

 

Stage 3: A picture of a useful vessel.

(v. 4) 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.

(v. 5) Then the word of the Lord came to me: (v.6) “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”

 

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”

2 Timothy 2:20-21

 

My friend, God doesn’t make mistakes.

And you will never be fulfilled in life, until you allow God to do the work in your life that needs to be done.

 

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup. They said, "May we see that? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful." As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke. "You don’t understand," it said. "I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was red and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ’Let me alone’, but he only smiled, ’Not yet.’ "Then I was placed on a spinning wheel," the teacup said, "and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. Stop it! I’m getting dizzy? I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ’Not yet.’ Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips and he shook his head, ’Not yet.’ Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ’There, that’s better’, I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ’Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. he only nodded, ’Not yet.’ Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, ’Not yet.’ Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later He handed me a mirror and I couldn’t believe it was me. ’It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’ ’I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ’I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you would have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad and when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any color in your life. And if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t survive for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.
 

As the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, the word of the Lord comes to you: “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.”