Potter and clay

There was a time in my life when, like many in my generation, I felt strongly that I deserved things.

That was no more clearly evident than in the job market. I spent nine months at one job beating my head against the wall because it wasn’t “in my field” doing what I thought I “should” be doing. I challenged a company policy about how quickly someone could be hired from within for another position because I was certain that I deserved to be in a different position from where I would be much better positioned to serve the company. It was all in the company’s best interest.

Of course it was.

When the company was named “Me. Myself. And I.”

I had thought I had escaped that mindset, but this recent life change I have encountered has challenged me once again. I still have debt from the degrees I earned for what I considered “my” field. That debt has been insisting that because I have it, I must be what I expected I’d be when I took it on.

But is that true?

At the beginning of Jeremiah 18 (you know you want to click that link and go read it – go ahead, I’ll wait), Jeremiah encounters a message from God at the house of a potter, working at his wheel. The potter ruined the vessel he was working on, so he smashed the clay down and started again. God’s message through Jeremiah was simply: why should I not do this to Judah? Why should I not do this to you?

If God is the potter and I am the clay, why can God not remake me, remold me, rework me according to his desires? Why should He not completely change the direction I believed I was going and become a bowl instead of the vase I thought I was going to be (or vice versa)?

Now, I don’t consider myself “ruined.” But if God has better or just different plans for me, well, He’s the potter and I’m the clay. Maybe I’ll still be a preacher. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll work in a church again. Maybe I’ll be a layperson. Maybe I won’t be able to attend church at all while I pursue other work.

You know what won’t change? He’s God. I’m not. He’s savior. I’m redeemed. Tomorrow remains in His hands. It will never be in mine.

Psalm 42:5-6a says:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

I want everything to work out just the way I want it to. I liked what I was seeing in the reflection of the mirror on the potter’s wall. But if God has other uses for me (or if He does not), then that’s okay. I choose to praise Him anyway.

He is God. In Him I hope. He is my salvation. He is my God. He is the Potter. I am the clay.

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Packages so Neat

My first job after college was for one of those large mall anchor stores. I worked in one of the clothing departments, eventually making my way to one of the specialty shops that focus on a certain brand. Part of working that section of the department involved being able to fold the shirts a particular way, every time. I learned.

A few years later I was working for a different retailer in another state. This retailer offered their customers gift wrapping. It turns out that in addition to folding shirts the right way, I can wrap a gift well, from small boxes to awkward large framed prints. Using minimal tape, I could make sharp and even lines with the paper. I came to be the go to wrapper when I was on shift.

Ten years later, I was still folding my shirts the way I did for those two months in that specialty shop. And I am the gift wrapper in my house. My wife can’t figure out how I can start with a new roll of tape and not have to ask for a new roll halfway through the first gift.

The thing is, we like to have our stuff neat and presentable. Well-wrapped gifts give the aura of luxury. We like that. And it doesn’t just go for gifts. We want our books, magazine articles, television shows, and life events to all wrap up nicely. I have never watched Lost or The Sopranos, but I know plenty of people who were less than satisfied by their finales. They didn’t wrap neatly.

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Blessing the God of Blessings

Text: Psalm 103

David begins Psalm 103 with an exhortation, directed to himself, to “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” Though we regularly read this in most translations as “bless,” the word can also be translated equally well as either “praise” or “worship.” David is telling himself here to be sure to praise and worship God.

There is no particular occasion or reason that sparks this worship. There is no clear indication that this was to be particularly used at a certain feast or festival, or some other regular occasion at the temple. Rather, David begins this psalm by urging himself to worship right now, in this moment, whatever that moment happens to be. Worship is not a Sabbath-only event. It is an “as often as we think of it” event. We should be continually worshipping God.

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Seven Words of Worship: Experience

Text: Psalm 24

We are coming now to the end of our study of the Seven Words of Worship that we began back in July. We have looked at worship through the lenses of Creation, Grace, Love, Response, Expression, and Presence. Today we come to the seventh and final word of our study: Experience. In this word of worship, we are reminded that worship should above all else be both an experience of God and an experience with God.

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Seven Words of Worship: Expression

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text: Psalm 136

We have looked at the WHO of worship. Worship is directed from us, the created, to God, the creator and sustainer of all things. It takes both for worship to happen. We do the worshipping, and God receives it.

We have looked at the why of worship from two different angles. First we considered the grace of God that transcends our sin in order to free us to worship. Second, we considered the love of God expressed clearly in His willingness to sacrifice His only begotten Son for our sakes, and, even further, the love of God as God the Son in willingly letting go of His position in heaven to come down to earth as a man who died in our place on the cross, the very worst kind of death.

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