Christian Web Links
On my chest of drawers at the parsonage I have a very plain piece of painted pottery. Nothing about this vase begs for attention. The color is dull. The shape is pudgy. No ornamentation makes it distinctive. I am sure that no collector would find it valuable.
Still, this vase remains one of my treasures.
You see, my great grandfather was a potter at a nondescript pottery in Kentucky. My Dad took me there once many years ago. From the outside it looked like a barn to me. We walked through bare board floor “show rooms” with unpainted shelving on all of the walls. There was no fluorescent lighting, but just a couple of bare light bulbs hanging from ceiling fixtures.
Some relative took us to the room with the oven. I remember the heat burned at my face.
Then we came to another, much smaller room. This one had only a dirt floor. On the sidewall, near a hinged window that was propped up with a sawed off broom handle was an old pottery wheel. An older man showed us how it turned with a foot treadle and told us this is where my great grandfather had worked.
He slapped some clay on the wheel, doused it with water, and then slowly, he started it turning. In a moment he had a vase very much like the one on my windowsill.
This is David Thomas, thinking aloud, that Jeremiah used the potter and the clay as an image for how skillfully and gently God makes us. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” (18.6) Under the turning of the wheel he trims and molds and shapes us.
God is very much an artisan and craftsman in the process. He is good at what he does. He works patiently and with affection for his work. He has an idea in his mind and is able with much skill to translate that idea into his artwork.
Sometimes, Jeremiah says, the clay is marred in his hand; a stone or other foreign matter is exposed in the turning and trimming and shaping, and the vase is destroyed on the wheel. But God does not get angry or throw the clay aside.
He goes back to work: softening, turning, trimming, shaping until he has made another vase that will be good and please him just as much.