The Potter and the Clay
Someone humorously quipped, “If you want to make God smile, tell him your plans.” Typically the big question that haunts us most profoundly when we look at a world that seems to be spinning off its axis is the three-letter word, “Why?” Both Jeremiah and Paul lived in perilous times and were asking God that same question. In our Old Testament text, the Lord commands Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house. The potter was already busy at work shaping the clay on his wheel. This is an important reminder that all of us are on the potter’s wheel; we are people in process. We might have a relationship with God and have the assurance of where we are going, but the how is often still undetermined. Sometimes the potter isn’t satisfied with the material and must reshape it to please the potter and not the clay. The great consolation, however, is that God can still use the defective clay. He can reshape our lives into something even better than we can ask or imagine. The ultimate paradox in life is that God’s sovereignty doesn’t exclude, but rather includes our choices in his foreknowledge.
Can we affect divine outcomes? Does our level of commitment or willingness to adapt to God’s will make a difference? God has demonstrated that within his own purposes, he will modify the means to accomplish his ends. In other words, God’s will is not fixed, and we by our prayers and our obedience can actually change God’s mind. We cannot see beyond the next bend, but God can.
In the book of Romans the apostle Paul writes that the Lord will mold the clay for special or ordinary use. Some in God’s kingdom will have a unique function and multiple gifts, while others will be a single-talented person. Furthermore, God can use all kinds of people to accomplish his ends, even the evil Pharaoh. But conversely, if God can use an obstinate donkey to speak to Balaam, or eleven bumbling disciples to achieve his high purpose, then there is still hope for you and me.