Hammer or Oven?

Jeremiah 18:3–6 “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.’ ”

Observation: This passage uses the familiar illustration of a potter at work to impart understanding of God’s authority to remake His people into an image He likes. When an unpleasing form appeared on the potter’s wheel it was readily destroyed, that he might have another go at it. Just so, the Lord will deal with me. I am clay in His hands; He has purposed not to rest until He has made me into the image He has in mind.

Application: If I evolved from a blob of protoplasm, who is God to think He can execute authority over me? Ah, but He thwarted that argument from the beginning. Once the spirit of life, His Holy Spirit, was breathed into me, all arguments about ownership were laid to rest. He made this lump of clay; in fact, He owns it doubly, having purchased it by the blood of His dear Son from the pile of discarded shards of broken rebellion that litter my life. 

So yes, He has every right to now lay a sharpened stick into my side as I turn on His wheel. Let’s assume for a moment that I can avoid His hammer of disappointed destruction, and that He really does begin to take pleasure in what He sees emerging. Just as I breathe a sigh of relief to have dodged the hammer, the realization dawns that because He is so pleased, now the oven awaits. Ugh! 

How else can I receive the dazzling colors He wants to apply yet still retain my shape? Can the divine oven be avoided if I am to have ultimate usefulness? Let’s see, hammer or oven, which shall it be? The thing to remember is this: God looks well beyond the oven, envisioning my perfect usefulness after the fire has had its way with me. I think of the passage I read from 2 Corinthians 4:16–17 at my wife’s graveside: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

Prayer: Adjust the heat, Lord, so Your work in me might have a perfect result.


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