Recently, a friend contacted me to ask for a second opinion concerning a particular verse. This lady was scheduled to speak at a ladies' meeting, and though she had already prepared her devotion, she sought a different perspective on the key verse, Jeremiah 18:4, which reads, And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
As I read the verse, the first couple of things that popped into my mind were songs related to the Potter. I thought of the famous song, "He Didn't Throw the Clay Away" and of another of my favorites, "The Potter Knows the Clay." But as I read through the verse again, a couple of phrases jumped out at me.
"In the hand of the Potter" - I don't know much about pottery. On rare occasions, I've had the opportunity to see a potter at work, but I must admit, my knowledge of the craft ends there. However, every time I have seen a potter at work, I notice one constant. Whether the craftsman is making a cup or a bowl, he never takes his hands off the clay. He is constantly molding, applying slight pressure at times and extensive pressure at other moments. But no matter what, as the wheel turns, the placement of the potter's hands is always the same--he holds the clay. It is always in his hands. He never lets go, for as I understand, if He were to remove his hands from his creation, the entire thing would crumble. Sound familiar?
The other phrase that caught my attention was the last one: "as seemed good to the potter to make it." The potter molded and made the vessel as he saw fit. Notice he doesn't ask for the vessel's approval or seek the vessel's opinion on the matter. Why? Because the potter knows that the vessel cannot possibly comprehend what is best for it. The potter, on the other hand, knows. He knows how much pressure needs to be applied to create a useable vessel. He knows how fast or hard to spin the wheel. He knows how hot the fire needs to be and how long the fire needs to be applied to each vessel. He knows the clay. He understands the clay. And so he does what he knows is best, for the good of the clay and the glory of the potter. Remind you of anyone?
Deep down in our hearts, I believe each of us would admit that we long to be useful vessels unto the Lord. However, when we see what it costs to become those vessels, most of us balk. "But, Lord, the fire is too hot." "But, Lord, I've suffered so long." "But, Lord, the pressure is too much." "But, Lord, this isn't what I expected."
We know that God is a good God. We know that He works for our good. We have His promises on that. So why don't we trust Him? Why won't we simply rest in the Potter's hands and allow Him to do what He sees fit? No, it may not be what we had in mind, but I can guarantee you that, in the end, it will be much better!
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: - Philippians 1:6