The Pertinent Question

The Pertinent Question (CaD Jer 18) Wayfarer

When our daughter, Taylor was young we did a father-daughter pottery class at the Des Moines Art Center. It was a lot of fun to go into the potter’s studio once a week to learn different techniques and to learn how pottery is done. As a final project, I made a cigar ashtray for a friend that looked like ancient ruins. Taylor, meanwhile, molded out of clay what looked like a taco and some potato olés. It was awesome.

In today’s chapter, God sends Jeremiah to the local potter’s studio to watch the man work. Doing so, Jerry watches the potter at his wheel molding the clay. It became marred in the potter’s hands. This is easy to do. I learned from trying the potter’s wheel in our class. Once you start losing control of the clay, things quickly fall apart. You have to stop, crush the clay back into a lump, and start over.

That was the simple metaphor that God wanted Jeremiah to see and use. God is the Potter. The Hebrew people are His clay. Their hard-hearted spiritual defiance marred them in the potter’s hand. So, God was going to spiritually crush them back into a lump by sending them into captivity and exile in Babylon, and then bring them back to start fresh.

As I pondered this simple metaphor in the quiet this morning, I remembered something from that pottery class over twenty years ago. The instructors had to take strict care of the clay we were using to make sure that it was pliable and usable. If it was stored at the wrong temperature and humidity, or if it was left out to dry, then even that lump could not be successfully used on the wheel or in the potter’s hand.

This is where the mystery of God’s will and my will finds its tension. God may want to mold me a certain way, but if I remain oppositionally defiant and hard-hearted, then there’s only so much that the Potter can do with me. This is why Jesus told those who were considering following Him, “If anyone would come after me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow.” Jesus succeeded in defeating sin, death, and the grave by being pliable clay in God the Father’s hands. “Not my will, but yours,” Jesus said to the Father on the eve of His torture and execution. He expected the same spiritual pliability, the same surrender of will, from any who would seek to follow.

So the most pertinent question I can ask myself as I prepare to head back out on the journey this morning is not about what God is doing or going to do. And, let’s be honest, isn’t that always the top-of-mind question: “God?! What are you doing?!” The most pertinent question is whether I am willing, my heart open, my spirit pliable, to let God the Potter mold, make, and fashion me into whatever He wills for His glory?

The words of an old hymn rise in my spirit as I ponder the pertinent question.

Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way.
Thou art the Potter. I am the clay.
Mold me and make me, after Thy will.
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way.
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Filled with Thy Spirit ’til all can see,
Christ only, always living in me.

Wouldn’t you know it? I’m kind of hungry for a taco and some potato olés.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

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