Have you ever seen a potter at work? Have you seen the way the potter gets down into the clay? Some time ago, I was mesmerised by the work of the potter and so took to watching numerous videos of potters at work. As I viewed the videos, I made several observations:
- Begin with the end in mind: What was the potter setting out to create?
- The work involved: Now, if the potter begins with the end in mind, the potter must have an idea of the material, effort and time required to create the piece.
- Gifted hands: The potter must have gifted hands – hands that can be gentle or firm depending on the stage of the process and depending on the quality of the material at hand.
- Patience: The potter must be patient with the material to mould it into the desired shape. The potter must also have the patience to begin again if the material isn’t yielding as it ought to for the optimal finished piece.
- Focussed: The potter cannot be distracted while working on a piece. For the duration of the creation process, the potter must focus on the piece so that they can assess how well the clay is taking shape.
- Intimacy: As the potter works on a piece, the piece becomes an extension of the potter, so much so that the potter and the piece become one. The potter becomes intimate with the piece. The potter puts their heart into the piece.
This last point is the one I want to emphasise. That is, the potter must get intimate with the work. In the intimacy is the potter’s fingerprint. In the intimacy is the potter’s heart. In the intimacy lie the character and nature of the potter, so much so that when they have completed the piece, those who are familiar with the potter’s work, will recognise it as a piece by that potter.
Linking this to one of the readings for this Sunday: Jeremiah 18:1-11, God calls Jeremiah to the potter’s house where the potter was working at his wheel. As the vessel turned out badly, the potter reworked it into another vessel ‘as seemed good to him’ (verse 4). At this point (verse 5), Jeremiah says, ‘Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, […] just as this potter has done?’
Friends, are you in a place where you feel like you are on the potter’s wheel? Do you feel your life spinning out of control – at work or at home or both? Do you sometimes feel like your life has been extracted from the most intense tragedy that you’ve ever seen played? Do you sometimes wonder where you got it so wrong that you could be passing through this torrent with little to hold on to? Have you felt ambushed by life, with one thing after the next going wrong? Have you considered that you might be on the potter’s wheel?
Without condemnation, I suggest to you that you might be on the potter’s wheel. Remember I shared at the beginning that there was a time when I was mesmerised by potters at work? I recognise now that that phase was the Lord’s revelation to me, just as He asked Jeremiah, that He was shaping me into a vessel ‘as seemed good to him’. It was God at work in me to amend my ways.
As I submitted myself to the Potter’s hands, I felt the Potter’s heart being poured into me. Initially, I felt the pain of the loss that I suffered – in my career, my finances, and my relationships. It stung! But then, I felt the warmth of the Potter’s hands when I was comforted and reassured that He was with me. The divine Potter reminded me of His promise:
Returning to my earlier question then: have you considered that you might be on the Potter’s wheel? Perhaps whatever you’re enduring at this time, during this season in your life, is the Potter at work on and in you. Perhaps it would be wise of you to submit to the gruelling at the hands of the Potter (as fearful a thought as that might be). As you submit, the natural sequence is that you open yourself to receive from the Potter’s heart. The natural consequence of this is an intimacy with the Potter. In that intimacy, you receive all the good things that the Potter has for you based on your individual needs in relation to the end in mind for you. In that intimacy, you feel the warmth of the Potter’s heart. And as you feel that warmth, your heart is fashioned after the Potter’s heart. When your heart is fashioned after the Potter’s heart, your heart is filled so that you can then pour into others just as the Potter needs you to.
Friends, as I wrap up, don’t resist the Potter’s hands, for those very hands lead to the Potter’s heart. And as you are exposed to the Potter’s heart, you understand what it means to be loved by God. In that understanding lie my closing wish for you: