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…” –Jeremiah 18: 3-6
I took a ceramics class in college. I was not an art major, and probably was well out of my comfort zone. Throughout the semester, we learned about types of clay, textures and techniques. But, I really wanted to use the potter’s wheel. Our instructor made it look so easy. Sit down at the wheel; roll up your sleeves; throw down your prepared clay; get it wet; start the wheel; press the clay and create a cool-looking bowl, jar, plate; cut it off of the wheel. Woo hoo!
When it was my turn, I went to the wheel and threw the clay… and tried and tried. I made some sad looking things. Finally, I did have some success and made a few small bowls. One day, as I was beginning to be tired from being hunched over the wheel, I finally made a large bowl. I was so happy and in such a hurry to take it off of the wheel, that I forgot to “cut” the bottom of the bowl with the wire to release it from the wheel. It crumpled. That last step…tripped me up. I was trying to move too quickly. There simply are no shortcuts.
Creating a masterpiece takes time. It takes patience, creativity, vision, forethought and carry through. That’s how God described His role in Jeremiah’s life. God is the potter, Jeremiah was the clay. Isaiah 45:9 states, “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’” and Isaiah 64: 8 reads, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
So often, we want to be in control, telling God what we want Him to do in our lives, or how we want Him to answer a specific prayer. But, who are we to tell our Creator what to do or how to answer a prayer? Like Jeremiah, our role is to be the clay. This means we are to patiently undergo the processes of preparation, centering, shaping, and refining at the will of our Creator and not the other way around. God will finish the job if we let Him. He won’t take us off of the wheel too soon!