Jeremiah went to the potter’s house with no purpose other than because God said to go. While he was there, watching the potter at work, God directed his thoughts to the potter’s ownership over the vessel he was making. The shape of the pot didn’t work out the first time so the potter scrunched the clay back down and started over. Then Jeremiah got the message.
The vessel was the creation of the potter’s imagination. He envisioned what he wanted it to look like and designed it to accomplish the purposes he had in mind. His hands fashioned his thoughts into the lump of clay. Throughout the whole process the potter was in charge—that was the message.
When Jeremiah took his understanding of the clay and potter to the people they either couldn’t make the connection or didn’t want to. The thought that God was “hands on” was a stretch for them. They had separated God from their lives and kept Him in a temple structure, available as they wanted or needed Him. They didn’t have an intimate, connected relationship with their creator.
This separation theology is the bane of meaningful Christian growth. Having a God with no say in how we live or the direction our lives move, or taking away His intentions for us, basically make us one step above pagans. We have the right God but give that God no rights.
Jeremiah saw in the potter absolute authority. He saw in the clay absolute submission. He looked on the shelf and saw the beauty of the final product—well-designed, usable vessels, poised for full and meaningful existence.
Instead of arguing with God about control, I want to hop up onto the spindle and let the Potter shape me into whatever image best suites His purpose. And though I might want to be an ornate vase filled with a bouquet of freshly cut flowers, if it better serves His purpose, I’m willing to be an ashtray.