"This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message.' So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 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 18:2-4).
We are all in a different place in our Christian life, but wherever we are we can be sure of one thing: The almighty, sovereign, and eternal God is shaping us on His refining wheel. Often we resist this refining process because it involves pain. But God is relentless in His goal of producing holiness and Christ-like character in each one of us, especially in those involved in prayer and intercession (James 5:16). He uses our life experiences and struggles in this shaping process. While we are being shaped, we often ask God these kinds of questions:
“God, don’t you care about my pain?”
“Why don’t I understand what is happening?”
“Can I trust that you will bring me through?”
“Why is this taking so long?”
Have you ever carefully watched a potter as he shaped the clay? My husband and I spent five years in Asia and were able to visit the delightful country of Papua New Guinea several times. While there I remember visiting a little village where an old woman and man were in the business of making pots into something beautiful. We saw a lot of pots - all shaped by the loving hands of this woman. Some were more beautiful than others.
It was at a potter’s house in Jeremiah’s day, that the prophet received one of his most dramatic messages. God told Jeremiah in 18:1 to go down to the potter’s house and he would give him a message. The potter’s workshop must have been in the lower part of Jerusalem. The original text signals the urgency of the command - ARISE GO DOWN! The word “potter” means “forming one” or “shaper”. The verb can be used of God’s creative work (Genesis 2:7-8, Psalms 94:9 Isaiah 29:16 . God has formed all that exists. He is the one that shapes people. He is shaping each one of us into a masterpiece for His glory.
It is the choice of the one being shaped if he agrees to what his maker is doing. I wonder how many of us - if we were honest - wonder what God is doing in some area of our life and if He actually knows what He is doing? Today you might feel like nobody cares or knows, and you feel as if you are in a hidden storage place. Answer these personal questions:
Am I in agreement with what God is doing in the nitty-gritty places in my life?
Am I willing to die to that which will not glorify God?
Can I accept God’s personal stripping process in my life?
“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remain (just one grain; it never becomes more but lives) by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others, and yields a rich harvest” (John 12:24, Amplified)
Shaping the Messenger
“When Jewish potters make new pots, they set aside the very best pots and pottery for special treatment. After they put their name on the underside of these extra good pieces, they put them away in a cold, damp room for storage, away from the public view. It is only when the more selective buyers ask for the ‘very best’ of the potter’s products that the craftsman will retrieve the chosen pots from their hidden storage place.”
Jeremiah obeyed and went down. He saw the potter working on the wheel. The Hebrew word for wheel implies two wheels (dual form). Potters typically used a device with a lower stone wheel fastened on a vertical shaft with a small wooden wheel above. The potter would sit turning the large stone wheel with his feet while shaping the clay on the small wooden wheel. To express verse 4 with the meaning of the Hebrew verbs, “Whenever the pot he was shaping was spoiled, as happens with clay in the hands of the potter, he would remake it into another vessel, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Spoiled, marred, ruined vessels were not tossed aside and discarded in favor of those that emerged perfect. They were remade! God can mend cracked pots!
We often try to thwart the purpose of the potter. The clay often presses against the potter’s hand as it goes around. The potter controls the opposing force with pressure if he wants a useful pot. God kneads, pushes, presses and pulls us into shape, but He never throws us away. He says to Israel in verse 6, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” Isn’t this what He says to us as well? Can we not say, “Yes, Lord. Form me into Your image. Do whatever it takes. I want to be like you!”
Shaped by the Hand of God
“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8).
There are things we must practice as we are being shaped by the hand of God. There are ways we can get the greatest benefit out of these times of refinement. This is the time to trust completely in God for He knows exactly what He is doing. He is making you into a masterpiece for His glory. Learn to trust Him day by day. Remember that you are in the potter’s hands - God is working at the wheel of your life in every detail. Let’s look at some of the ways to cooperate with God:
- Look at your hands - They are not just alien objects but are attached to a person who thinks, feels, and chooses. The actions of our hands have a purpose. In the same way God’s hands are not just instruments in the universe, things that just happen, but they are attached to a loving God who cares, weeps, feels, has compassion, is intimately involved, and chooses the best for you. Trust Him and rely on Him during times of testing. God is maturing you for a purpose.
- Listen to what you are telling yourself - We tell ourselves messages as we live out our life. What messages are you telling yourself? Believe the truth and speak the truth rather than the enemy’s lies. See Isaiah 45:9 and the following:
Romans 9:20: "But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
Isaiah 29:16: "You turn things upside down as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'You did not make me'? Can the pot say to the potter, 'You know nothing'?"
- Ask yourself, “Do I know the hands that are forming me? - Remember, God is your good shepherd. Meditate on Psalm 23.
Psalm 23: "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul..."
- Obey God and walk in repentance - Let Him touch every area of your life. Repent of weaknesses as He brings them to the surface.
- Hold onto God and His Word - He will carry you through. Don’t hurry along the process, but learn to cling to Him and His Word. Hold onto the promises in the Bible. Look at how other Bible characters were being shaped by God through their life experiences (Moses, Joseph, David, Elijah).
- Learn to wait on God and pray persistently - Cry out to Him and wait for Him. He knows exactly what He is doing.
- Watch your attitude - Thank Him for the character He is developing in your life. Don’t give up or complain. Recommit yourself to Him and what He is doing in your life. Commit yourself afresh to God’s plans and purposes. Remember, He is making you into a masterpiece for His glory.
- Love God for who He is - Learn to be a lover of God for Himself and not what He can give you. Worship and praise Him throughout the day.
Let’s be like Evan Roberts who was instrumental in the Welsh Revival who cried out to God, “Bend us!” Bend your church!” May we be pliable and so easily moldable in God’s hands. Is God not saying to us as He said to Israel, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?”
Be still and listen to this song called: The Potter's Hand.
“Proven vessels have been oven-baked and refired again and again in the kiln of commitment until they’ve proven their ability to withstand the pressures and temperature of the fire. Once you cry out, ‘God, I want to be like you,’ then you will probably be broken up, made over into a brand-new vessel, and whisked out of the bright light into a deserted and dark back storage room until the appointed time. Remember, diamonds were just pieces of coal formed in a dark, pressurized environment.” - Lori Wilke
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International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff
*This Article First Published 3/18/2013