Jeremiah Chapter 18: 1-6
Missey Butler, Author, cbn.com
I want to share with you a beautiful illustration I heard years ago that still speaks to my heart whenever I have one of those, “I can’t do anything right” days. It is the lesson of “The Cracked Pot.”
Many years ago, in a very poor Middle East village, stood an ancient stone well. Alongside of that well sat two large watering pots. One of them was like new, beautifully formed, even had graceful etchings along its curved handle.
The other, not as new yet still useful, had become cracked over the years. Time after time, the pot was passed over by the people with the exception of a little village girl. She had grown fond of the neglected pitcher. Every day she would choose it instead of the beautiful pot.
One morning, the old pot asked the little girl, “Why do you continue to use me, when you know I am flawed and cannot hold the water you and your family so desperately need?” The little girl spoke not a word but carried the broken pot to a familiar pathway she traveled daily.
With her tiny voice she said, “This is why I pick you.” There before the pot was a row of delicate wildflowers that had bloomed along the trail because of the water that had trickled and leaked from the pot. The buried seeds of the flowers had been watered as she made her way home each day. The cracked pot for the first time had seen its worth through the eyes of a grateful little girl.
Just like the not so perfect piece of pottery, the Potter uses us as God’s creations despite our imperfections. Sometimes, unfortunately, we have to be placed back on the potter’s wheel to be remolded. This is not always a fun process but it is necessary in order to smooth out some of the flaws that God says must go! In even more serious times, God will actually break us and begin the process all over again. All because He’s after something within us that will ultimately produce a vessel of honor for His glory.
“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.” Jeremiah 18:4 (NIV)
Just so you know you are in good company, here are some of the more famous “cracked pots” found in the Bible:
Noah was a Drunk
Elijah was Suicidal
Peter was a Coward
Jacob was a Deceiver
Rahab was a Prostitute
Samson was a Womanizer
Moses had a Self-esteem problem
David was an Adulterer/Murderer
The Samaritan Woman was Divorced (a lot)
We may find ourselves falling on our faces. But just like these heroes and heroines of the faith, God has promised to be our treasure while in these earthen vessels. Hallelujah! We have immutable Deity dwelling in a breakable container. The “Complete One” abiding in the “Incomplete ones.” What a divine paradox!
I find myself today still one of His works in progress. It would not surprise me if one day I discovered, engraved deeply upon this “earthen vessel,” the signature of my loving Maker. Along with it would be the following words:
“Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21 (NKJV)
Then I will truly be a finished masterpiece, ready to bring honor and glory to the Potter’s Hands.
The Potter’s Hands
By: David Jeremiah, crosswalk.com
But the Bible also tells us that God wants to spiritually fashion us into vessels fit for His use, molded as images of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul says God wants to form us into “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
The patriarch Job concurred: “Your hands have made me and fashioned me . . . You have made me like clay” (Job 10:8-9). This gives us a biblical warrant for thinking of the events and influences of our lives as His hands and fingers, shaping us like a potter shaping clay.
First, God’s hands form us. And, His hands are on your life. He knows how to skillfully apply pressure, how to relax His grip, how to score your life with His fingernail, how to squeeze and nudge — all of it designed to make you a vessel fit for His use. Sometimes He even places us in the kiln where the fires of life turn us into more solid vessels for His use.
Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but the next verse gives us His purpose: “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
Our heavenly Father wants to use the events we encounter each day as tools with which to shape and sculpt us into the image of Christ. He wants to deepen our faith, to develop within us the quality of perseverance, and to make us watertight containers of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
If you’re under some sort of pressure right now, visualize the skillful hands of the divine Potter using it for good in your life. Pray as Isaiah did: “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). You can trust His dexterous and expert fingers not to harm, but to help you.
His Hands Are Re-Forming
Sometimes we think we’re unusable, unredeemable. We’ve done something for which we feel shame and guilt, and we think God can no longer do much with us. Our problems are occasionally of our own making, and our pain arises from our own stupidity. But when we bring our sin to the Lord, confess it earnestly, nail it to the cross of Christ, and surrender it to the power of His shed blood, God can take our sins and shame and spin them into a design that glorifies Him.
One night Adelaide Pollard went to church in a state of depression because she felt God wanted her in Africa as a missionary, but she couldn’t raise the support. During the prayer meeting, a woman prayed, “It doesn’t matter what You bring into our lives, Lord. Just have Your own way with us.”
Returning home, Adelaide read the story of the potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18. By bedtime she had written out a prayer of her own, which today is the hymn, “Have Thine Own Way.”
Today make it your prayer as you think of the forming and re-forming hands of the Master Potter who is crafting you and me into vessels of honor, fit for the Master’s use. Ask God to have His own way in your life as He forms — and re-forms — you into His wonderful image.
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.
Clay jars are delicate. They crack easily even though they may seem relatively durable.
On one hand, clay jars are refined by fire. There are several steps to making them, culminating with the kiln. This furnace carries the clay from an unfinished product to a household amenity. But once completed, the slightest nudge on the corner table could send a jar plummeting to its demise. The durability is deceiving. The thick porcelain is more delicate than it appears. No wonder the Bible often describes people as jars of clay. We are like potter’s vessels, waiting to be broken into millions of tiny pieces (Psalm 31:12, Isaiah 30:14). We are weak. We get tired and weary. We grow old and frail.
Being a mom to small children, I am faced daily with my weakness. Often it’s in the form of tiredness and impatience. Motherhood can be tiring, but my children are not at fault for my weakness. They are a great joy and blessing. The tiredness part actually becomes another reminder that I am a part of a fallen world. It makes me feel how badly I need a Savior. A scenario that has played out in my home looks like this: I’m tired, yet in my pride I resist rest. After all, there’s so much to do. But then this ‘tiredness without rest’ can lead to impatience with my loved ones.
Embracing the Unlikely Asset
What if I instead embraced the fact that I’m a clay jar? What if I didn’t ignore the fact that as a human I really do get tired sometimes? What if I gained a biblical understanding of what it means to be weak? It was recently said, “In God’s economy, our weakness is one of our greatest assets.” But isn’t this hard to believe? It’s hard to believe that weakness can be an asset — that it’s for our good. But what weakness does — like nothing else can — is draw our attention to the One who never grows tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28).
Trying harder in our own power doesn’t solve our weakness. If anything, it exposes more of our weakness. My self-exertion typically leaves me depleted and lacking joy. Jonathan Parnell writes, “Embracing weakness brings more peace because we realize afresh that God loves us by his grace, not because we are strong. Our joy doesn’t rest in our ability, but in the approval God gives us in Christ, the one in whom he chose us before the ages began according to his own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9).”
This should bring joy to a weak, weary mom! God loves you as you are. He didn’t call you to himself while you were strong, but while you were weak (1 Corinthians 1:27). It was while we were still weak, that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).
Walking with Confidence
That is the great purpose behind why we are called jars of clay. It is to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are weak, we are frail, we are lame — and yet, we are chosen. We are loved. “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28).
Our only boast is in Jesus our Lord who is for us our wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption (verse 30). He is our perfect righteousness, who not only meets us in our weakness, but covers our every sin and deformity by his blood.
Moms, we can walk in our weakness. We can boast in our weakness and confess our need for Jesus. Ironically, this gives us the right kind of confidence. We don’t have to walk with a limp, focused on ourselves. We walk confidently, not in our ability but in the ability of our Savior. We walk confidently not in our strength, but in his. It is good to be a jar of clay.
Streams in the Desert – January 28
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
I am jealous over you with God’s own jealousy (2 Corinthians 11:2) Weymouth
How an old harper dotes on his harp! How he fondles and caresses it, as a child resting on his bosom! His life is bound up in it. But, see him tuning it. He grasps it firmly, strikes a chord with a sharp, quick blow; and while it quivers as if in pain, he leans over intently to catch the first note that rises. The note, as he feared, is false and harsh. He strains the chord with the torturing thumb-screw; and though it seems ready to snap with the tension, he strikes it again, bending down to listen softly as before, till at length you see a smile on his face as the first true tone trembles upward.
So it may be that God is dealing with you. Loving you better than any harper loves his harp, He finds you a mass of jarring discords. He wrings your heartstrings with some torturing anguish; He bends over you tenderly, striking and listening; and, hearing only a harsh murmur, strikes you again, while His heart bleeds for you, anxiously waiting for that strain–“Not my will, but thine be done” — which is melody sweet to His ear as angels’ songs. Nor will He cease to strike until your chastened soul shall blend with all the pure and infinite harmonies of His own being.
Oh, the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love in a tuneful harmony rings!
But, oh, the wail and the discord, when one and another is rent,
Tensionless, broken and lost, from the cherished instrument.
For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown, must ache with many a cross;
Yet he who hath never a conflict, hath never a victor’s palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.
Only between the storms can the Alpine traveller know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil of a brooding haze.
Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe!
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.