Anyone who has ever walked on mud consisting of wet clay knows that clay sticks to your boots and is challenging to remove. The higher the clay content of the soil, the stickier the mess. By the time you walk a few feet, your boots are a lot heavier.
Some clay is heavier and nearly impossible to shovel. This is clay with a denser consistency. All clay can be molded into beautiful art by a potter.
According to scripture, we are made from mud. We’re a combination of water and clay. We’re made from a substance that sticks to the farmer’s boot like manure in the barnyard. Clay is obstinate and challenging. And water doesn’t easily pass through dense clay.
Yep, this description nails it, but doesn’t sound much like “Jesus loves me!” does it?
Speaking through the Prophet Jeremiah, God offers pottery as a metaphor but doesn’t offer much clarification. “Go to the potter’s house,” God instructs Jeremiah. And while observing the potter along with Jeremiah, we gain insight into God’s way of seeing creation.
Like the potter, God shapes mud into art. Like mud, We are shaped through life circumstances, mainly due to choices made by persons we’ve never met and can’t hold accountable.
Scripture is clear. It works this way on purpose. While we’re each made from mud, we’re all mixtures of different types and shades of mud. God throws a lump onto the wheel that begins the creative process. Some of us are porous, while others are less so. Some of us come from primary sources where stone was crushed into clay. Others are made from clay that traveled downstream, picking up impurities along the way.
Potters often mix clays with different characteristics, resulting in a more durable and beautiful piece of art. For example, adding clay with more plasticity improves a very dense clay that withstands high temperatures and finishes harder and stronger.
The Lord said go to the potter’s house…Whenever a piece of pottery turned out imperfect, he would take the clay and make it into something else.
And, as a potter, God knows that we each tolerate different levels of hardening and heat. Likewise, some of us are easily molded and shaped, while others are stubborn and resist shaping. Nevertheless, we each become what the Potter chooses us to be, whether by intervention or through the consequences of choices made by persons closely connected and by many we’ll never meet.
On the other hand, even though the story’s point in Jeremiah is subtle, it’s powerful. The miracle is found in the language describing how the potter reacts to a misshaped lump of clay. The potter makes something else, not rejecting or abandoning the clay, but working with the raw material to change what is misshaped into beautiful art.
This sounds more like Jesus loves me but recognizes what I’m trying to hide.
In the Book of Job, we read a story that invites us up on stage. Job’s story is our story when things aren’t going so well. Like Job, we want to know why calamity happened to us. What did we do that was so terrible? Why are we being punished? And God is often silent?
But what if God decided to answer us? God enters the final scene in Job’s case, but the answer isn’t what Job expected. So, God has answered already in scripture.
More importantly, God sometimes answers through our connection with others and often through a tiny opening in our souls. Sometimes, despite our rigidity and stubbornness, God makes way for life-giving and life-changing revelation.
I invite you to join us for worship. And if you have a prayer request you can submit your request online on our website home page. In addition, prayer request forms are located around the church and during water and food giveaways.
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Content for this series is based in part on:
Barnabas Piper. Help My Unbelief: Why doubt is not the enemy of faith © Barnabas Piper, 2020. Charlotte : The Good Book Company.