Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marred Clay

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.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
(Jeremiah 18:1-10 – NIV)

There is so much here that it's hard to know where to begin. I could talk about nations repenting like Ninevah did in the book of Jonah. I could talk about nations that are blessed by God turning away and abandoning God. I could speak of how God actually changes his actions based on the actions of nations.

But I'm going to talk about marred clay. Have you ever seen a potter working on a wheel? The clay starts out as just a lump, but soon, under the pressure of the potter's hands, it begins to rise and form into a cup, a pitcher, a jar, a bowl. Sometimes, though, there's a weak spot in the clay, or the potter presses a bit hard, and the clay collapses in upon itself. What was going to be a beautiful vessel is suddenly just a misshapen lump of clay again.

So, does the potter yell at the clay, pluck it off the wheel and throw it away? No. He changes his strategy. Sometimes he starts over, patting the clay back into its initial shape before trying again. Sometimes he takes what was going to be a tall vase, and makes it into a short, broad bowl. The point is, he makes something useful of the clay that was marred in his hands.

We are all marred clay. The potter picked us up out of the mud (what do you think clay is?) He took us and began to lovingly shape us into a beautiful vessel, fit for the home of a king. Instead, through our own failures, and through the action of God's enemy, we were marred in the potter's hands. We didn't fulfill the destiny that God originally had for us.

But God does not throw us away. He wastes nothing, not even the sins that marred our lives and turned us away from his original plan for us. He uses everything in our lives to build us up. He takes every sin, every virtue, every bad decision, and every good one and makes something to bring himself glory. It may not be the thing it could have been, but it will bring glory to God.

No matter what you have done in your life, God can use you. And he starts anew right where you are.

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