I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Jeremiah in the Old Testament of the Bible where he is told by the Lord to “arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.” (Jeremiah 18:2) When Jeremiah arrives at the potter’s house, he sees the potter working at his wheel. One of the pieces he is working on is marred, and so the potter reshapes the vessel until he is pleased with the result. The Lord then makes the statement: “as clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand.” (Jeremiah 18:6)
I absolutely love that scripture! Somehow, I find myself able to relate to this story on a very personal level, perhaps because I am an artist myself. Whatever the reason may be, this scripture comes to life for me and teaches some very valuable lessons. To understand the lessons taught, it is important to have a very basic understanding of the pottery process, so I’ve broken it down into four very simplified steps:
- Step 1: The potter perfectly centres the clay on the wheel.
- Step 2: The clay is shaped and moulded.
- Step 3: The potter works out any imperfections.
- Step 4: The vessel is fired in a kiln, removing impurities and giving it strength.
A powerful lesson can be drawn from each of these four steps. The first step teaches us that we must have our lives centred perfectly on the gospel of Jesus Christ. At times when I feel like my life is spinning out of control, I need to remind myself to slow down, take a step back and determine if my life is centred on Christ. As I once again find that centre, everything else seems to fall into place.
The second step teaches us that if we are humble and pliable, the Lord will shape and mould us into the individuals that he wants us to be. We may at times resist the Lord’s efforts to shape and mould us, and this is where the third step comes in. Each and every one of us sin and fall short of perfection. Symbolically, our vessels are marred and would have to be thrown out if we didn’t have a master that could take away our imperfections. Jesus Christ is the master potter, and he alone has the power to remove all our sin and earthly imperfection if we but allow him to.
The fourth step is also known as the refiner’s fire. It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that life has its share of pain, sorrows and trials. That being said, how we respond to these situations determines if we will make it through the firing of the kiln strengthened, or if the heat of the kiln will break us.
I would like to point out that there is the most beautiful element of perfect and unconditional love that can be applied to every point in our life. The love that I am talking about comes from our Saviour Jesus Christ. In the garden of Gethsemane, he suffered every earthly pain and sorrow on our behalf. Yes, he suffered for you. And because he suffered, Christ knows how to perfectly comfort and lead us through every pain and sorrow that we will ever experience…including depression…especially depression.
I love the imagery that comes to mind as I envision my life as a vessel in the hands of the Lord being shaped, moulded, refined and purified. That imagery makes it easier to get through the times that depression leaves me feeling broken…even shattered beyond repair. Some days are broken pieces days, but I know with absolute certainty that there is someone who will always be there to pick up those broken pieces every single time…that someone is my Saviour Jesus. Through him, I can be made whole again. I do not have to remain broken.
This was my fourth day of my challenge to experience joy, and I am really enjoying the process! Here is my diary entry and reflections on day 4:
“Another day complete! Today, I began the day in prayer and then read “The Joy of Living a Christ Centred Life” by Richard J Maynes. He referred to the story of Jeremiah when he was told by the Lord to go to the potter’s house. That has always been one of my favourite stories from the bible, and I appreciated the insight that he added. My favourite part of the article stated that “the joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centred on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” I need to make a better effort of centring my life on the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I appreciated that reminder. The other assignment from my challenge was to create something today…so I created music! I spent close to two hours playing pieces by my favourite composers like Chopin and Debussy. It had been awhile since I had played like that, and it was so invigorating. What a joy music is! Day four has come to an end, and I look forward to day five!”
Day 5: The Joy of Forgiveness
- Pray, listen and feel.
- Read “The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness” by Elder Kevin R Duncan
- Forgive someone today.
- Reach out to someone that has been estranged from you and reconnect.
- Be accountable to someone.
- Reflect in your journal.