A Word from Pastor Stephen – March 26, 2020
“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. 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.” (Jeremiah 18:1-4 NIV)
Jeremiah was born in a little village named Anathoth. It was located about 4 miles northeast of Jerusalem. His dad’s name was Hilkiah. Jeremiah came from a well-to-do and devout family. The Book of Jeremiah is long and detailed and stretches 52 chapters. It’s worth reading some time. Most of you have plenty of time on your hands at the moment.
Jeremiah is told by God to go to the potter’s house. I have only seen a potter working at a wheel a few times in my life. It was usually at some tourist trap or artist community. It is not a common sight for most of us today. However, to Jeremiah, the potter would have been a common part of everyday life. Archeological sites are always littered with pottery shards. Surely, Jeremiah had seen the potter at work many times. He probably knew the potter by name since he lived in a small village.
But there was something different about this time. Something strikes Jeremiah. He has a revelation. God spoke to him about the plight of Israel. This ordinary, everyday sight causes him to see God at work. This time as Jeremiah was watching the potter something went wrong. The potter was not satisfied with what he was making. It had some flaw. The symmetry was off. The design wasn’t right. What caught the eye and imagination of Jeremiah was what happened next.
The potter didn’t throw the clay away. He didn’t put it aside. The clay was still soft and pliable. He crushed it back down into a formless lump and started working it again. This time the potter is satisfied with his work. It can now be placed in the furnace and fired so that it can harden and serve its created purpose.
This is the revelation that comes to Jeremiah. God is the potter and we are the clay. God is always molding us. For Jeremiah the nation of Israel was the clay that was being molded again and again.
Even in the midst of this virus and the chaos it has caused every one of us, I believe God is in control. God has a plan for creation. God has a plan for your life. At the end of the creation story in Genesis God looked around at everything and said, “…it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)
God does have a design for your life, even if at times it feels like we are lost in a wilderness or if time and time again we try and run from that plan. God is at work at the wheel forming us again and again, if that is what needs to be done. God doesn’t create on a whim. God has a purpose.
I’m not one of those who believes that everything happens for a reason. I spent too many years at the Children’s Home. I saw too many children whose lives had been shattered and destroyed by unspeakable abuse, violence and neglect. If you tried to tell me that was just God’s will for that child, well I want no part of that God.
I have no good and ready answers for the problem of evil and why bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why we are faced with this virus. I still wrestle with and question so many things. All I know is that I would rather live with Jesus than live without Jesus. I can live with the tension and the questions. I have to trust, because I don’t know what God will yet make of my life.
We may not be able to see the divine horizon, but God does. God is at work at the wheel spinning the clay, working his plan for our lives. We can rebel. We can say no. We can run. But God just takes the clay, makes a lump again, and begins to rework it. God will prevail. Why? Because there is nothing more stubborn, more persistent, or more patient as the grace of God and his desire to love you and save you.
Let your life go into the hands of God where he will work it into something wonderful. Let God fulfill the plan he has for your life and take comfort in the knowledge that God will work with eternal patience. We are in God’s hands and that is a wonderful place to be. Amen.