With great joy they celebrated the Feast of Unraised Bread for seven days. God had plunged them into a sea of joy; he had changed the mind of the king of Assyria to back them in rebuilding The Temple of God, the God of Israel. Ezra 6:22 (MSG)
When I was a kid, my dad always had the radio on. It was as a kid that I learned to appreciate an old radio news man and commentator named Paul Harvey. In the morning and at noon, Harvey would offer his own special take on the day’s news. In the afternoon, however, that distinctive voice pouring out of the radio would share a unique biographical story with a twist at the end that revealed the mysterious person he was talking about. Harvey called it The Rest of the Story, and I always listened intently to see if I could figure out the identity of the mysterious figure he was talking about.
I thought about The Rest of the Story as I read today’s chapter. At the beginning of 2011, we were journeying through the book of Jeremiah’s prophesies and the “weeping” prophet was warning the people of Jerusalem that they’d better straighten up or God was going to send the King of Babylon to take them into exile. In Jeremiah 18 I pulled out this verse for our chapter-a-day:
So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot. Jeremiah 18:3-4 (MSG)
Almost a year has passed. And now, at the end of 2011, we read “the rest of the story.” The people refused to listen to Jeremiah so God, the Potter, crushed the marred pot he’d been working on. The Babylonians swept into Jerusalem and flattened the city, along with Solomon’s temple, like a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel. The people of Israel were taken into exile where they languished for many years.
Then, miraculously, a new king emerges who sends a remnent of Israelites back to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the city and the temple. The Potter is back at work, redeeming the lump of clay which had been broken, and making it into something new for His purpose. The people are plunged into a sea of joy as they begin again their worship in the new temple in Jerusalem.
As I look back over the years, I see how God is writing “The Rest of the Story” in my own life. Broken and marred, I have (on multiple occasions, actually) felt life falling in like the walls of that clay pot on the Potter’s wheel. Though it felt like some kind of tragic end in the moment, God was no more finished with me than He was finished with the Israelites stuck in exile. God is a God of redemption. God is a God of hope.
He’s not finished with me yet.