Everyone was affected in some way by the great uncertainty of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was global, and social unrest reached nearly every part of the United States. We all discovered new ways that we are interconnected, both for good and for bad. Similarly, Jeremiah had a growing awareness—and apprehension—of the disaster and ruin that were coming for the nation of Israel.
As Jeremiah watched the potter, he saw that there was a flaw that caused the potter to stop and reform the clay. The potter could throw away the clay and begin with a new piece or crush the clay and start over. Jeremiah understood that the clay represented any individual or nation, and that God was the Great Potter with the skill, vision, and power to form the clay.
God was looking for the same thing in Israel that God is looking for in us today: a repentant heart. Sooner or later we are going to find ourselves on the potter’s wheel confronting circumstances, and we may not understand what God is doing in our lives. But perhaps in these times of stress and confusion, God will be able to do some of God’s best work. When we are in the Potter’s hands, feeling the pressure, feeling the molding of God’s fingers, we can relax and trust that we are being fashioned into a vessel of honor that is fit for God’s use.
To visualize your life as clay for the Divine Potter is to know that God’s hands are on your heart. God has a purpose in mind and the skill and ability to fulfill it.
Your heart is like clay being formed by the loving hands of God.
Jeremiah brings another warning of impending judgment. If the people will not turn to the Lord, God will break the nation and reshape it, just as a potter breaks down and reshapes clay on a wheel. The psalmist praises God for God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Even from the moment of conception, God knows us and has a plan for our lives. Philemon is often overlooked, but it packs a punch. A text that some used in the past to justify slavery teaches a very different message. Paul warns Philemon not to enslave Onesimus again but to receive him back as a brother. Secular power structures have no place in God’s kingdom. In Luke, Jesus uses striking examples to teach us that the life of faith cannot be lived well with half-hearted commitment.
Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. As clay, how can you better respond to the Potter’s guiding hand?
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. God knows you better than you know yourself, yet God has given you the ability to make your own decisions. How do you respond to God?
Read Philemon 1-21. How do you honor the full humanity of those who serve you through their work?
Read Luke 14:25-33. What does it mean for you to take up the cross in your life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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