If you pictured yourself as a clay vessel, formed by God, what kind do you think you would be? A cup, a mug, a vase, a bowl? What do you imagine the potter forming you into? The Biblical picture of clay reminds us that we don’t all look the same. We all have different shapes and sizes, colors and bumps. Perhaps most importantly we have different purposes. Sometimes I like those purposes. Sometimes I’m in love with those purposes, and other times I’d like to take those purposes and shove ’em.
God addresses the issue of my jaded heart in Isaiah 45:9-11. Please open to that passage, if you have your Bible out. If not, read below:
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
Gotta love a passage that starts with a good “Woe to him…” Yikes.
Let’s be honest for a moment –
Does the clay say to the pot? How often do I say to God, what in the world are You doing?
Your work has no handles? Are you sure you’re doing this right, God? I think it might be better if you gave me this or we went over here and did this instead.
What are you begetting? Why? Why? Why, God?
With what are you in labor? What are we making here…it better be something worthwhile, God.
These are pretty convicting phrases when we look at the verse for ourselves and not just as a problem those Israelites had long ago.
My heart can be mighty hard. As soon as I think I’m all over this spiritual maturity thing, thank you very much, life happens. I learn pretty quickly that I’m talking clay, wanting handles when I’m meant to be a bowl.
The problem isn’t our questions, really, it’s the hardness, the “I know better than You.” The “My ways are better than Yours, God.”
Jesus instructs us in a different posture in Matthew 7:7-8 –
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
We still get to ask questions.
We still get to come to God because of all Jesus did and Who He is, but we do so knowing that His ways are better. His ways are Life and Salvation. His ways are True and Honorable and Lovely and Just.
There’s another passage about our life as a pot, a jar of clay. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:6-9.
For God, who said,“Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
God’s light has shone in our hearts. Our hearts are different because of Jesus. We are bearers of Christ’s message in everything we have and everything we do and every single purpose we fulfill. We know this now. When things happen in our lives and our steps seem unsure, we rest in the Potter. Our security is in the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Isn’t that beautiful? I’d really rather be Jesus’s face to someone than my own, wouldn’t you?
Isaiah 45 is actually about a guy named Cyrus and some stubborn people, but it bleeds God’s promises across the page in a way that reaches us in the 21st century beautifully. Cyrus would be the King who would loose the yoke of exile for the Israelites, opening the doors of the kingdom of Babylon so that the people of Israel could return to their homes and their lives. Many of the Israelites were resistant to this plan. They liked their own lives, even in captivity. Babylon was a nice place, a comfortable place. Never mind the bondage and all that, it was cozy.
Sound freakishly familiar? I really like cozy. Sometimes when God asks for us to get un-cozy, the best thing we can do is let the Holy Spirit remind us of His promises. Back up in Isaiah 45 to the verses preceding our theme verses for the day and read God’s promise to Cyrus in Isaiah 45:1-2, 5-6 –
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
that gates may not be closed:
2 “I will go before you
and level the exalted places,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
God opens doors.
That’s who He is. And He levels the road we walk. He promises to equip these jars of clay and not leave us to our own devices. And along the way, He opens our own hearts to His Word and His people, His work.
What doors has God opened for you in the past? What uncomfortable thing has He brought you through into the light of the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”? How do you see things in your life differently through Christ’s message?
All of these questions are good. They help us to know the Potter, but not tell Him what He think He should do with the wheel.
Ask away, but let Him pot.
You are a treasured vessel, lovingly created and formed from the beginning and each day since. Entrust it all to Him, who molds and makes.
What do you like in life that’s cozy? What are you most attached to- certain people, a place, a few items you own, etc? (This is a fun question, so choose anything that adds a little cozy to your life, big or small.)
Where have you seen God bring you through the uncomfortable to see a greater purpose?
What open door are you asking God to open right now?