Summary: A view form the potters wheel makes human clay feel dizzy and pushed around. We think we see the truth but the best view is form the potter's perspective and the shaping that happens with His firm and creative hands.
A view from the wheel
So, this week I had that dizzy feeling that clay might have as it is centered on the potter’s wheel. The potter starts to spin the wheel and shaping the clay. I started to consider how much of my life is remembered as a blur. Christmas’ and birthdays, health problems, graduations, funerals seem to be blurred by the speed of life. Events in my life are recognizable but they are flying by while I feel like I am hardly moving.
I have that dizzy feeling and all too often I feel like I am out at the edge of the wheel and holding on for all I am worth to keep from flying into oblivion.
Since it feels that we are always on the wheel, I thought that we need to be reminded about the shaping process.
The prophet Jeremiah was told by God to head down to the potters house and he would receive a message. He gets there and he sees the potter working with clay. The wheel is spinning and the clay ends up with and imperfection in its shape. It is marred. It is ruined in some way.
The potter just forms it back into a ball and centers it on the wheel and starts the process all over again.
I like the imagery that this scene holds. The personal interaction between that material and the artist.
The way God explains His expectations and even his decision process with a visual illustration.
I have never really taken the time to learn about making pots. My art skills have ususlly been more of a desire than a reality. In elementary school I had a consistent theme of making Bird nest with eggs out of play-do and clay.
During a couple of periods of time I did do some ceramic work. Working with green ware to clean off the edges then painting the different pieces. However, there is a difference in cleaning up some pre-formed and shaped clay that already looks like something compared to making the original image.
I found it interesting that I seem to already know a little about how a potter creates cups, bowls and other useful and beautiful objects. I know that the potter starts with a slimy lump of material and he gets his hands dirty as he shapes the object. I know that there is a wheel that spins and the hands of the artist does the work. That potter has direct contact with the creation.
I know that the potter has an idea an image in his or her mind about what the clay is to become and how they will use their skill to yield the end product. I also know that a potter goes through several steps to create. The raw material has to be gathered and prepared. They shape the clay. The depending on what is being made there are 1 or several firing processes to harden and glaze the object. After a time the object is finished.
In Genesis 2:7 “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
So here we are dust formed, shaped by God. We as the clay go through many steps in God working with us.
So we have this image of a potter working the clay.
Oddly enough there is also no direct challenge to the qualities of the clay. By default the clay is unformed and shapeable. It is not responsible for its qualities, imperfections or its material makeup.
The clay is simply the chosen material that is being changed and prepared for a completely different kind of use.
It is the selected volume of raw material that the creator works with to change from a lump into a water pitcher, a cup, a bowl, or other useful object.
The basic idea of the message given to Jeremiah is that God is sovereign.
He is going to do something to His liking with the clay. The clay does not get to choose and is not asked what it would like.
That sounds hard.
We like choice. We like to decide what we will and won’t do.
We like to make up our own minds as to what is true and right.
The Jews that the prophet was preaching too were exactly the same. For generations the Hebrews had made choices that led them to worship other gods. They made idols and made offerings to false gods.
For 7 chapters God had warned the people of Israel that they were doing wrong. That their problems, losses and even slavery to other nations were results of being imperfect clay.
The imperfections that most offended God were the influences, the viewpoints, the acceptance of normal and acceptable behavior that were adopted from the surrounding cultures. More specifically that were the decisions and choices that interfered with Israel’s relationship with God.