Thought for the Day by Hilary Larkin (St Chad’s)
I rather like today’s passage from Jeremiah, about the potter and the clay. It takes me back to a period of time many years ago when I did a lot of pottery. I loved working with clay and the feeling of creating something beautiful out of it.
The process of making a clay pot on a wheel has probably not changed much from Jeremiah’s time to this. It’s messy and slow, the clay has to be well prepared first, and time, patience,experience and love are needed to make a decent hand thrown pot. It is not a quick assembly line job! Clay itself is of little value, being made of earth and water, only the finished well shaped pot holds value.
Jeremiah uses the imagery of the potter and his clay to get across God’s message in the same way that Jesus in the New Testament often uses parables. He lived at a time when the people of Judah had increasingly become corrupted and turned away from God and is warning the people of Judah that God will judge them and destroy their nation, but equally He can change his mind if they repent and turn back to God.
God can form us but if we don’t respond he will judge us, this seems pretty harsh but equally he can change his mind if we turn back to him. A reassuring thought, if we mess up our lives God will not give up on us. But we have to want that, we have to listen and allow God to guide us. Unlike the clay we have hearts that can respond. We are not in the hands of chance, God the potter loves and wants the best for us. Clay cannot mould itself, it needs to submit to the potter. However God knows that the people of Judah at that time will continue with their own agenda and (v12) ‘each will follow the stubbornness of their heart’.
We too can have stubborn hearts at times and allow ourselves to turn from what we know that God expects of us. We can be in danger of becoming cold, uncaring of others and our environment, greedy, selfish, I could keep going on! At those times it is up to us to choose to change our mindset, turn our hearts to God and allow ourselves to yield to God’s love and guidance.
In John’s Gospel we hear the parable of the Shepherd and His flock. The sheep listen and recognising the voice of the Shepherd follow Him and enter the sheepfold by the gate and are kept safe. Jesus says ‘I am the gate, whoever enters by me will be saved’ (v8). Again we are being told it is up to us to take responsibility and make a choice to follow the right path. Jesus won’t make us.
Do we really put our trust in God? It’s an ongoing process and so easy to fool ourselves into thinking that what we want is what God wants for us. It may not be!
Are we prepared to listen to God and allow Him to shape and guide our lives?