God uses many images to describe His relationship with His people, us. He uses for instance the metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep to tells us about His love and care for us; He uses the metaphor of a husband and wife relationship to let us know about His love and commitment with us; we also find in the Bible the metaphor of Father and son to let us know that we, like children are constantly under the Father’s loving watch and care, but perhaps the greatest portrait of God and His people that we can find in the entire Bible in which God shares His thoughts and feelings for us is the picture, the image of the God as a Potter and us as Clay. This beautiful lesson Jeremiah got from God, is like a time tunnel that take us all of way to the garden of Eden when God created us from clay at His image, but because of our sin we lost that image, we lost the shape we were created with. Now, in Jeremiah chapter 18th, God is ready to give us a second chance; He is ready to re-shape us “into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”
I have had the opportunity to see a potter working; it is amazing to see a bit of formless clay turning around the wheel and then the potter putting his hand on the center of the clay, and sometime later after a number of turns around the wheel under the control of the potter’s hand, a vessel, a cup or a plate is turning around on the wheel. The potter has the ability to transform a bit of formless matter into a piece of art. When the piece is done, carefully the potter inserts a piece of string in the base of the new piece and this is separated from the rest of the clay. Then he takes the new piece and places it under the sun. And when its dry the potter adds the colors and designs he wants. The piece is ready for the furnace. The quality of these pieces does not depend on the quality of the clay only, also depends on the quality of the potter.
In El Salvador, -where Yani and I come from- we have a town called Ilobasco. The whole town works with clay; they pass on the secrets, the ability to shape the clay from generation to generation. Some years ago Yani, the children and I went, and we were admiring from one store to another beautiful cups, vessels, mangers, landscapes and so many more figures all made of clay, but I also notice that while some pieces were on display so everybody could see them, others were separated from the rest with a sign that can be translated as, “adults only” and I do not have to explain what this figures were about.
I was asking myself why some pieces ended with a form that everyone can see and admire and others with “different” form. They both were made of clay, clay from the same place, clay made with the same elements, clay shaped by human hands using the same process and technics.? The answer I got was, they ended up with different shapes because of the potter; because of the intentions of the potter’s heart. When the potter took the clay in his hands, he or she already knew what he or she was going to do with it; what shape he or she was going to give them. That is the difference between one piece that can be displayed in the open and the other hidden for adults only. The difference is the potter’s intention.
My sisters and brothers I believe that, that is also true with our spiritual life. We are shape according to our potter’s intention. You see, Jeremiah is talking about the relationship between God and Israel, but the truth in those verses can also be applied to you and to me, as individuals as well, because even when we do not realize it, we all are clay turning on someone’s wheel; we all are clay being shape by someone’s hands. The question is: whose wheel and whose hands are shaping you, are shaping me? According to the Bible there two potters trying to shape our live: One is God, the One who revealed Himself in Jesus, the other one is Satan the enemy of our souls. The difference between both is what they have in their hearts; the difference between both is the intention, the thoughts, the plans they have for you and for me and according to their plan for us that is the shape they will give us.
Let’s see what the Bible says about Satan and his plans for us. Let’s see the difference between him and Jesus. 2 Corinthians 11:3 says: But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning your ,minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” The serpent is a representation of Satan. Therefore, Satan is a deceiver, a liar; he is trying to lead us astray from our sincere and pure devotion to Christ. He is trying to re-shape our lives to a form different to the one God gave us. Revelation 12:9 also warns us about Satan “who leads the whole world astray.” When Jesus was in the wilderness Satan was trying to deceive Him by misquoting the word of God; Satan is also known as the great Tempter. In the wilderness he tempted Jesus; he was trying to place Jesus on his wheel so he could re-shape His ministry according to his will and not God’s, but he failed. We cannot say the same with this world. Satan is being successful with this world; he is re-shaping little by little our society; he is taking the lives of a lot of young boys and girls and he is re-shaping them for destruction; Satan is reshaping marriages, men and women united by God; he is trying to reshape and destroy even Jesus’ church; this had happened because we allowed him to put his hands on us, God’s people. Because we allowed him to place us on his wheel.
He is re-shaping this world according to what he has in his heart and in his mind. This world is being re-shaped according to his intention. Listen to what John 10:10 say: “The thief –which is also another name for Satan- comes only to steal and kill and destroy” the only intention Satan has is: to steal, to kill and to destroy. He is stealing the peace and hope Jesus earned for us on the cross; he is stealing our joy and harmony; he is killing our desires of following, worshiping and serving God.
But there is hope; listen once again to John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Jesus –the other potter did not come to destroy or kill; He came to gives us life.
Another beautiful verse that shows the intention in God’s heart is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”This is theNew International Version. And that is the message I want to share with all of you today. God has good thoughts for you; He has plans of salvation; He wants to re-do your life; He wants to take your life, your marriage, your family and shape it according to those thoughts; according the intentions of His heart. Seems to me that the better option we have is Jesus.
What can we do so God could shape our lives according to His good intentions and thoughts? First come to His wheel; come before Him and surrender your life to Him. Then allow His hand to work in your life. The potter must insert his hand inside the clay in order to get the form he desires; God must work inside your heart, inside your mind and He does it through and with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Who is shaping your life? Who is shaping the life of our church? Let me finish reading 2 Timothy 20:21 “20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” God wants to cleanse His people, His church, this church; He wants to make us holy and useful; God wants to re-shape this church so we can be the church He wants us to be.