Summary: Through adversity and pain God, as a potter, is at work to shape our lives in a new way.
Living Large- In the Potter’s Hand
The Beatitudes: Part 3
Rev. Gary A. Shockley, Lead Pastor
September 23, 2001
(During the entire service we had a young man working with clay on a potter’s wheel. This was the principle image we referred to throughout our service)
As I continue to listen to the people around me I hear them saying things like, “Life will never be the same again. I will never be the same again.” And there’s truth in that. An event like this leaves it’s mark on us—as a nation and as individuals. We’re just now beginning to see the ripple effects of this tragedy in the financial sector, massive layoffs in the airline and travel industry, and all of this on top of the thousands of families in our nation who are still coming to grips with the loss of loved ones.
As people of faith we continue to look to the love and the grace of God at work in and through all of this. We read in God’s Word from 1 Peter 5:10, “Though you may suffer a little while, God will restore, support, and strengthen you and he will place you on a firm foundation.” And in 2 Timothy 2:19, “God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription, “The Lord knows those who are His.” God says in Isaiah 49, “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands; I will not forget you!.”
We need to be reminded again-- God didn’t do this! God is in no way behind this act of evil. Evil, sinful men, acting out of their own free will, were responsible for this terrorist act—NOT God.
But because God loves us. Because God wants to have a relationship with us He is at work right now through His Spirit to bring about good in our lives. If it’s true that we will never be the same again—it is also true that God is ready, willing and able—right now-- to make our lives better, to help us experience life more fully, to recreate us in the face of this disaster.
There is a new kind of openness toward God right now in our country. Last week churches, synagogues and temples were filled with people. Even some who have been hard-hearted are finding themselves turning to God. There’s a new kind of softness and sensitivity in people—in ourselves? Have you noticed that?
The clay of our lives has been softened. THAT’S GOD AT WORK!
Hear what the Bible says in Isaiah 64:8, “Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and You are the potter. We are all formed by your hand.” Just like Matt Luxton over here is working to create something beautiful from moistened clay, God, as our Potter wants to press, mold, and shape us into new people—if we let Him. I like the words of that old prayer hymn, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way. Thou art the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, after thy will. While I am waiting, yielded and still.”
God wants to do a new thing in your life this morning. He wants to gently take you in His hands and mold and shape your life in a wonderfully new way. “Look! God says in Isaiah 43:19, I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun!”
Just as Matt has an idea in his head about what he wants his clay to become—God has a picture in mind of what he wants for you. We’ve been looking at that picture in what is called the beatitudes from Matthew chapter 5. Here’s how Jesus describes what God wants us to become:
(vs.3) “God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.” God wants us to become people who realize how much we need and depend on Him. If there is a positive side to a disaster like this it’s that we find ourselves turning to God.
(vs.4) “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” God wants us to be so aware of our own sinfulness that it will break OUR own hearts and cause us to cry out to Him for mercy.
(vs.5) And is our scripture for this morning, “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” Other versions say, “Blessed are the meek—for they shall inherit the earth.”
If God as our Potter places us on His wheel and wraps his loving hands around us one of the things He pictures for us is meekness. But what does that mean? When I think of meekness I can’t help but picture some milk-toast kind of person, a push-over, someone weak and wimpish. But that’s not what God sees as meekness.