Growing up every Saturday evening as a family we watched the “Generation Game.” It was a game show that pitied different families against one another. A recurring challenge was to get the contestants to throw a pot on a potter’s wheel.
The inevitable happened and nearly every time, the clay went wonky and the whole thing became a disaster, not a pot. The host was known as “Brucie” and he would then make fun of the wonky pot and finally, the clay was taken off the wheel and thrown away.
I want you to think about that picture for a moment, of someone trying to make a pot but it going wonky, turning into a mess, and being dumped.
I wonder how many of you realize that picture you have just conjured up in your mind is a really deep bit of theology?
That picture of a piece of clay that was meant to become a beautiful and useful pot but instead turning out a mess is a picture that God uses in his Word to help us understand some stuff He really wants us to understand.
Just listen to this ….
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house,
and I saw him working at the wheel.
4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
God told Jeremiah to go down to the local potter and what he saw was the potter making a mess of a pot, just like in the Generation Game. It went wonky and turned out a mess. God told Jeremiah that he was to think about that picture because it was a message for His people.
God wanted Jeremiah to understand that the clay and the pot were his people. You see God had created Israel, the people of God, to reflect his character to the world, to serve his purposes. But just like the pots on the Generation Game and in this potter’s house, it had gone wrong. The people of Israel made a mess of being God’s people. They disobeyed God, they made bad decisions, they ignored God and his ways and so instead of the people of Israel creating a beautiful nation that God reflected God to the other nations, they made a mess of their national life, it was a disaster.
I suspect that at the end of a year which has been bruising for many of us, you might feel that you are like that wonky pot. Your life has gone wonky, it is not turned out how you intended and frankly, it ended up as a bit of a mess.
In the Generation Game the pots that turned out a mess, that were a disaster, after people had laughed at them, got thrown away. They were treated as useless and worthless.
I wonder if that is how you feel? that your life is worthless and you feel useless?
If you feel like that.
YOU SEE … God didn’t take Jeremiah down to the Potter’s House just to see a pot going wonky and becoming a mess. He didn’t want Jeremiah just to understand that Israel had made a mess of being his people. The message he wants you to understand about your life from this pot that’s gone wrong isn’t just that you have made a mess of your life either.
Listen to what happens next
“so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him.”
If it had been me, I would have dumped that piece of clay in the bin. I’d have thrown it away, after all it was useless and worthless.
I am sure Jeremiah expected the Potter he was watching to do exactly that, to take that mess and bin it, chuck it out
But that is not what happened.
Instead, the Potter took it in his hands and began to work with this lump of messy clay and gradually he reshaped it into what he had wanted it to be all along, reshaping it into a valuable and useful pot.
I used to be the minister of a church in Manchester and we had a potter and sculptor in our congregation. I remember visiting David and watching him create these stunning figures out of clay. He let me have a go and the inevitable happened, in my hands, the self same clay became a mess.
David then took that self-same bit of clay and worked it with his hands and created something beautiful from the mess I had made with my hands.
God wants to remind you again at the end of one year and the start of a new one that he is like that Potter Jeremiah saw and like my friend David in Manchester and not like me.
Just like them he can take a mess and shape it into what he intended it to be original, something valuable and useful.
6 “O house of Israel,
can I not do with you as this potter does?”
declares the LORD. “
When we make a mess of our lives, God doesn’t treat us as worthless and useless, he doesn’t reject us and throw us on the rubbish heap.
He gently begins to reshape us again and make our life beautiful again.
So whatever has happened in 2022, place yourself in the Potters Hands in 2023