The Potter and the Clay

Had a great afternoon incompetently attempting to make a earthernware pot with the very lovely (and very patient) Kenneth and Huiwen of Studio Asobi (facebook).

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio Asobi

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio AsobiShaping the wet clay with our fingers and palms and various tools, the Scriptural metaphor of God as potter and humans as clay came to mind.

We often forget how in-charge God is; we think we are the ones who should have the freedom to do what we want – we foolishly think that we are in control:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

12 “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

13 “Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
    Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
    has done a very horrible thing.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave
    the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
    the cold flowing streams?
15 But my people have forgotten me;
    they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
    in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
    not the highway,
16 making their land a horror,
    a thing to be hissed at for ever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
    and shakes his head.
17 Like the east wind I will scatter them
    before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
    in the day of their calamity.” (Jeremiah 18:1-17)

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio AsobiAnd we are even foolish enough to think that God can’t see what we think or do:

15 Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
    whose deeds are in the dark,
    and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
    “He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
    “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:15-16)

In fact, because God made everything and so knows everything and controls everything, as potter, God has the right to do what he wants with the humans he created:

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:19-24)

Now that is an image of an awesome sovereign God who keeps his own counsel, not the sort of god we like to think he is – a slave to humankind who heals people on demand or gives them wealth when they nag him enough.

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio Asobi

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