The Potter and the Clay
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Come, 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. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. (Jeremiah 18:1-4)
Many people have heard me tell of an ornamental trivet* my mother had hanging on the wall in her kitchen for most of my childhood. It was made of metal and had an image of a frazzled woman underneath which were the words, “Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet.”
I cannot begin to tell you how often those words pop into my head. They are a reminder to me that I am a work in progress. When I reflect on some hurtful word I said or careless thing I did, those words from my mother’s kitchen wall come to me as a reminder that I can do better as long as I keep trying. God isn’t finished with me yet.
The harder thing, I think, is to remember that God isn’t finished with others yet, either. The guy who cut me off in traffic. The woman yelling at the waitress because the restaurant was out of peach cobbler. Politicians scoring cheap points by fighting culture wars rather than solving real problems. Sometimes, as my anger boils up within me, I see that trivet and think, “God isn’t finished with them, yet, either.”
The hardest part, of course, is to take Jeremiah’s image of the potter and remember that we are still clay. And God is the potter at the wheel. We may not want to be reshaped. We may not see the need to be reshaped. We may even resist being cast anew. It takes a lot of self-reflection and self-honesty to see those places in our lives where God is still at work.
God isn’t finished with me. God isn’t finished with you. God is the most patient of all, casting and recasting each of us until…until when? I don’t know. I just know I am not there yet.
*for those unsure, a trivet is a small plate placed under a hot serving dish to protect the surface beneath.