There is a kid in all of us. The kid who likes to go back to old memories and enjoy those things we loved so much as children.
One of the things, I believe, many of us enjoyed as children, or maybe we watched our children enjoy, was creating something new with our Play-Doh. I wasn’t the best at creating something with Play-Doh. I never could get the shapes to mold right. Nothing would ever look like how I wanted it to look. What I was really good at was creating a ball. I could never mess that up.
I’m proof positive that you do not need to be the next Michelangelo to play with Play-Doh. All you need is an imaginative mind and a desire to mold something unique and different. Who knows how many people have been inspired simply because of a glob of Play-Doh?
The possibilities with Play-Doh are always limitless, including helping us to understand something about who God truly is. Perhaps all those hours we spent molding new shapes, creatures, and things out of our Play-Doh helped us to understand what God shows us about his love in Jeremiah 18:1-11.
God invites Jeremiah to head to a potter’s house. The Lord says there is a reason for this, but Jeremiah has to wait until he is there to understand. Once he is there it is likely Jeremiah noticed things you would see at a potter’s house. Jeremiah likely saw finished works of pottery on display on the wall – pots, bowls, and cups. He probably saw globs of unused clay on the table. However, Jeremiah’s eyes would have been intently focused on the potter who was working on a piece of clay.
That is what God wanted Jeremiah to see. The Lord wanted Jeremiah to notice this potter and how his hands worked the clay mold, how he shaped it, and how he cared for every aspect of the process. The potter was involved in the process of turning this clay into a new piece of pottery.
There was a reason God wanted Jeremiah to notice what the potter was doing. God had a message for Jeremiah, the people of Israel, and us. It was a message that was hidden within the symbols found in the potter’s house. What God wanted Jeremiah and us all to see is that just as the potter was deeply involved in the process of making a new piece of pottery, so too is God deeply involved in our lives in shaping us into the people the Lord desires us to be.
God’s message to Jeremiah is another word the Lord wants Jeremiah to speak to Israel. Jeremiah’s call was to be a prophet who spoke challenging words to his friends, family, and his people. This word was that they had allowed themselves to be comfortable, which caused their disobedience from God’s desires.
The message for Jeremiah begins when he sees the potter at work. This is where we need to start paying attention to the symbols in this passage. As the potter works on the clay, God wants everyone to know that he is the potter of our lives.
Since the beginning of creation, God has been at work in molding and shaping us out of his love for us. Genesis 1 speaks to this. Where there was once nothing, God was there. God created the universe and molded it like the potter molds a piece of clay. The Lord brought life out of what was darkness. He brought life in each of us and throughout all of humanity. We were shaped and formed in the image of God. What does this mean? Simply it means we were made to reflect the very characteristics of our Lord. Those characteristics of holiness, such as love, joy, peacefulness, hope, and so many others that help us to understand our Lord. We were made to exhibit the very things that define our Lord.
Everything God created was made perfect. Creation was made perfect. The universe was made perfect. Each of us, and truly every person, were created perfect. We were made for a deep relationship with the Lord and to reflect the perfection of God’s creation. That’s what God wanted Jeremiah to tell the people. They were made to reflect something great and holy.
Yet, this isn’t what they were doing. So often, this isn’t what we do. That’s why God wanted Jeremiah to notice what was taking place in the house. The pottery process wasn’t going as planned. The clay was breaking. The mold was coming apart. There were gaps in the mold. It was cracking.
The mold was broken. That’s what God wanted Jeremiah to see, because this served as an illustration for how we all are. We are broken people. Creation and humanity is broken. We can look around and see this world isn’t as God intended. Something happened that caused what God created perfect to be broken. Truly we broke what God created perfect.
We did this when sin entered creation. Genesis 3 tells us that Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s desires when they distrusted God’s word. They stopped believing God was with them, loved them, and had their best interests at heart. Because of this creation would no longer be the same. It was now broken, because a distance existed where there was supposed to be closeness.
All of us live out this brokenness. We are all broken. None of us are perfect. We make mistakes. We say the wrong things. We do the wrong things. We do things we know are wrong. By our words, our actions, and deeds we separate ourselves from the image God made us in and distance ourselves from a deep relationship with the Lord.
So, what is God going to do with his creation? Will he toss it aside and start all over? Will he try to make the most of it? What will God do with us?
The answer comes in the fact that the potter never lets go of the clay. He never stops working it. The potter continually works the clay and never lets the clay to slip out of his fingers. The same is true of God’s love for us. We are always in God’s hands. God is the one who is at work in bringing back together what was broken by our sinfulness.
God is always at work in sealing the cracks of our lives. This is the work that Christ did on the cross. On the cross, Jesus died for our wrongs, our sins, our acts of disobedience. Jesus paid the price for our sin. He won the victory over the things that create a distance between us and God. When we accept the grace of God, when we recognize Jesus paid the price for us so that we may experience a new life, we are made hole. Our relationship with God is restored and we are set on a path to live lives of holiness in response to what God has done to heal our brokenness.
The great truth for us is this: God never lets us go. God’s hands are always touching us. The Lord is always active in our lives and showing us grace when we need it. That grace, that touch of God’s hand molding us into a new person, is always available for us. No matter what we’ve done in our lives, no matter how many times we have disobeyed God each day, God’s love reaches out for us. No sin outweighs the blood of Christ. We are all broken. We are all in need of God’s love.
That is the hope for the world and for us. We may feel like we are just broken pieces of clay. We may feel like we are unable to experience God’s love. However, God sees something else in us. God sees us for what we once were and what we could be once again. What God sees in us is that we are his children. We were made in his image. We were made to reflect his love. Even when we feel that our brokenness is too overwhelming for anyone to love, God says we are worthy of being loved.
This is the transformative hope. This is the hope that leads us out of our brokenness and to taking on a new life in Christ, reconciled, healed, and sent forth to live a new life. We cannot heal our brokenness on our own. We need God’s love to do the work of healing and transformation in our lives.
Yes, we are all broken. This does not have to define us. God’s grace can be what defines us. The fact God never lets us go can inspire us. The fact Christ has healed from being controlled by sin can transform us.
The grace of God has healed us and transforms us back into what God created. We need that grace. But, will we accept the hand of the Potter who is always at work in our lives today?