Thursday, March 10, 2011

relationship: Potter/clay

Description of the relationship

We see a picture of the potter/clay relationship painted in Jeremiah 18. In this passage, Jeremiah is commanded by God to go to the potter's house. While there, Jeremiah sees that the pottery the potter was making was spoiled in his hands so he reworked it into a different piece of pottery as he saw fit. Then God says that he is like the potter and the people of Israel are like the clay.

There are two important things to know about this relationship:

1. The potter does as he chooses to the clay. The potter takes the clay and envisions the pottery he would like to make. The potter shapes and molds the clay as he sees fit. If the piece of pottery the potter is making spoils, then the potter reworks it. The potter is in complete control.

2. As Isaiah 45:9 points out, the clay does not have any say in the process. The clay is unable to speak. The clay cannot tell the potter what to make or how to mold it. The clay is 100% at the will and mercy of the master.

Reading this description would seem to indicate that we have no say in this relationship. While it is true that God is sovereign and could choose to do with us whatever He wants, we do see a role we play in this relationship in 2 Timothy 2:20-21. Paul tells Timothy that we must cleanse ourselves to be a vessel that is holy and set apart for special purposes.

Definition of the roles

Isaiah 64:8 says, "But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."

Potter: It is clear from the Scriptures we have looked at that God is the Potter. He decides how to mold us and make us. If He decides to rework us, then He is justified in doing so because He is the Potter.

Clay: It is also clear from the Scriptures we have looked at that we are the clay. We are the work of His hand. We don't have a say in how we are molded or made. The only responsibility that we have is to be cleansed. If we are not cleansed, we cannot be set apart for special purposes. So, we only choose whether we're cleansed or dirty. We have no say over how we're worked. And as clay, we do not have the right to question the Potter. God will always know what's best for us. We should never question His wisdom.

There are times when David questioned God in the Psalms. But these questions seem more rhetorical as he doesn't appear to wait for an answer. Not long after asking the question, he simply acknowledges that he trusts the Lord in His wisdom.

We must be careful to recognize our role in this relationship. We need to always trust that the Lord knows what is best and will mold us in exactly the right way.

Discussion of the reality

I know that I sometimes struggle when I don't understand why I'm going through a certain situation or when I am in a particular season. God often reminds me that I need to trust Him. There are no ifs, ands or buts here. Simply: trust God. Who are we to tell our Creator that He's making a mistake with us or that our situation is too hard for us to handle. God knows us better than we know ourselves. We need to be careful of this.

Some people try to shape God into the image they want Him to have. They pick and choose the aspects of God they like and discard the rest. The problem with this is that those people are trying to take the role as potter and trying to make God into the role as clay. This will never be met with success. We cannot mold God into what we want Him to be. When Moses asked God for His name, God replies in Exodus 3:14 by saying, "I AM WHO I AM." (also could be translated "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.") The title YAHWEH is the covenant name for God which means "I AM." God's name is holy. What we also learn is that He is who He is. We cannot change or manipulate who He is. He is unchangeable. He is God. What more is there to say?

We need to be careful to always remember that He is the Potter, we're not; and He's not the clay, we are.

Here is my prayer today:

Please help me guard the things I say
Opinions, thoughts and questions are not for clay
Too often, as I'm being molded, I lift my voice
Though how clay is molded is the Potter's choice
Every time that I'm being molded and I begin to speak
Remind me that clay is silent and meek
Create with me whatever vessel you desire
Lend me strength as I'm kilned in the fire
A reminder for me today:
You are the Potter; I am but clay

in His strength. for His glory.