God had a word for Jeremiah, and it is fitting for today, when so many are being taught that it is in their hands to fulfill their own destiny. God sent him over to the potter’s house, to learn a lesson. Jeremiah obediently went his way, and walked into the shop, and here was a potter working on a vessel. As the potter’s wheel spun around and around, the potter would use his nimble fingers in the clay while the wheel was turning—to form a vessel. But suddenly something happened. The vessel was marred in the hand of the potter. I wonder if God caused it to happen to teach Jeremiah the lesson He knew the prophet needed.
It was a beautiful object lesson; and as Jeremiah looked on he saw the potter do the cruelest thing. He took the clay in his hands, crumbled it all together into a formless lump—and started over again. He didn’t try to mend the vessel. Nor did he discard the clay as useless. . .he just worked on it again. There was no word from the vessel: “You can’t do that! What are You doing to me? I thought I was just about ready for service. . .and now look at me!” But when you gather together it is easy for you to join with the rest of the people as they sing: “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.”
—And then go home after the meeting, and continue to blame God for making you again another vessel as seemed good to Him to make it. And perhaps not even realizing that you had prayed He would do that, as you sang that song in the meeting.
But as you keep your heart fixed on Him, and continue to love Him in spite of the way He continues to demolish your plans—sooner or later you are inclined to believe that God caused the vessel to be marred; because He knew it would take that to break your will, that the Potter might have His own way in your life. Perhaps we can even hear Him saying, not audibly but in that quiet way He often speaks without saying any words:
—Before I crumbled your clay you were deaf and slow to understand My ways. . .but now you are sensitive to that inner voice of My Spirit. No longer do you need the bit and bridle that men use on horse and mule, to bring you into line with My plan.
—Once you were confident in your strength, and felt a little superior to those who were weak, but now you freely confess with My servant David, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now I have kept Thy word” (Ps. 119:67).
—Or with My servant Job, who loved Me and was confident in the understanding He had of his God. But after his great trial he makes this confession: “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee: therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5, 6). And you hear the Lord replying, Now you understand why I brought you to dust and ashes. . .because that is really what you are by nature. I choose to use vessels of clay, but those vessels must be pliable in My hands, that I might make it and remake it, as seems good to the Potter.
—Perhaps you had not realized how faulty your walk with God had been—and you hear Him saying: Once you were lame, but you didn’t realize it. But after I humbled you in the confrontation at Jabbok. . .you limp as you walk, and the people wonder why. But I see one who was crippled by My hand, that you might walk with Me as a prince of God. Now you are truly an overcomer, because you have been overcome by the smiting of the hand of the mighty God of Jacob.
—Or you might hear something like this: “You wanted gifts of the Spirit desperately. And it was I who put that desire in your heart for gifts, because you need My gifts in order to function effectively in the body of Christ. But now having fashioned you anew, as seemed good to the Potter, you desire and long for only one thing. You no longer desire the gift, but the Giver. It is no longer the reward of a fruitful ministry that you look for, but you rejoice in the Reward that I AM. For to you I give the promise that I gave to My friend Abraham, “Fear not, Abram, for I am thy shield and thy exceeding great Reward” (Gen. 15:1).