The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Jeremiah 18:4
What caused the clay to spoil in the potter’s hand? And if we are meant to understand ourselves as the clay, what then causes us to spoil and need to be reworked? Our answers to these questions have massive implications for how we view God, ourselves, and our relationship with him.
On the one hand, you could read this as a story of God’s failed attempt at making something beautiful. The clay isn’t the problem, the potter is. Disappointed by his efforts, he scraps the project and sets about to try again. However, this interpretation flies in the face of what the Scripture actually says about God as creator. Genesis reminds us that “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God is infinitely creative and is pleased with the beauty of his creation, so much so that he longs to be with us and for us to be with him.
As such, the only other way to understand this passage is that we, the clay, have resisted the creative work of the skilled potter. We want to fashion ourselves into something of our own making, rather than submitting to his guiding hand. Perhaps we doubt his goodness and ability to create something good and so we instead try and take matters into our own hands. Yet as salvation history reminds us, every effort at life apart from the goodness and glory of God leaves us unmade and undone, like a pile of clay without any form, shape, or direction.
The power of this story lies in the fact that God is continually bringing beauty out of brokenness and order out of chaos. He looks upon his creation, once perfect yet now marred by the stain of sin, and he sets about the work of new creation. When the Lord looks upon the lump of clay, his children suffering under the weight of their own self-love, does he discard them and start from scratch? No! As Jeremiah reminds us, the potter takes the clay and “reworks it into another vessel, as seems good to him.”
Whatever your pain, sorrow, or wound may be, whether self-inflicted or inflicted upon you, trust that the Lord’s ways are good and so his process of recreation is making you into something beautiful. The Lord longs for you to be a vessel, fashioned in his very likeness and a means by which he shares his love through you to the world he loves.
“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” (Isaiah 64:8).
Father, fill us with the refining fire of Your Love, that we may be fashioned into a vessel that is pleasing to You, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Do you believe that God is able to pick up the pieces of your life and weave them into a beautiful tapestry that tells the story of His faithfulness?