Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as the potter has done?” Says the Lord. “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:1-11 (CEB)
I remember playing with Play-Doh when I was younger. The dough was soft and flexible, and as long as I put it back in the plastic cup replacing the lid, it stayed that way. However, if the lid was left off or the dough was left out for a while, it lost is pliability and became stiff, hard, and breakable.
When we read the image of the clay in the potter’s hand, we can picture the potter sitting at the wheel and shaping it into a vessel of some kind. I have a friend who once made a whole bunch of chalices and plates for a women’s clergy gathering. 90% of them were great, but a few of them had leaks and wouldn’t hold the liquid and had to be thrown away. Fortunately, most of them were fine.
Thinking of being like clay in God’s hands is a reminder that, as God’s children, we are molded and shaped through our baptism and our choice to follow Christ throughout our lives. And as long as we stay open to God’s word, the teachings of Jesus, and the power of God’s Spirit moving, we will grow and become stronger in faith.
Yet, we all have cracks and leaks that show up occasionally. No one is perfect, and each of us is shaped uniquely in our own way with our own gifts and talents. Staying malleable keeps us from becoming so rigid in our beliefs that we aren’t willing to learn something new and become even better. That’s how God shapes us.
I’ve been so blessed as a pastor because the majority of the people in the congregations I have served are open to learning and growing. There have been a few who disagreed with me, and I would have been disappointed if no one had! I grow through my interactions with others and from considering their ideas, too. God is always stretching me and shaping me into being a better “vessel” as I pastor my congregations.
Sometimes the breaks or cracks that show up and bring us pain and sorrow can be repaired. The scars and the putty or glue that repair those cracks is always visible, but they can also make us stronger. We can learn about God’s presence in our lives and share that love of God more fully even with – maybe because of – the “wounds” that we carry. Others can see our human-ness and realize that they can have the same thing as they grow in faith through their life experiences.
What about you? Where have the breaks and cracks come in your life?
How were you able to see God working to heal and help you move on?
In what ways has God shaped your life and how do you share that with others?