God as Potter

So read the introduction to the instruction manual for a pottery-making kit given to our family many years ago. It went on to say: “Use of your potter’s wheel is a craft requiring practice and patience. Your hand is your most important tool. It will take awhile for your fingers to learn to work in new ways to keep your pieces smooth and even.”

Let us compare these words to the image of potters in Jeremiah’s day. The potters’ streets in Israel were busy places. As the prophet Jeremiah walked through a potter’s street, he was struck that God could shape and reshape Israel as the potter was shaping and reshaping the clay. The hands of the potter determined the design and shape. The potter could mold the clay into anything his hands could make. Jeremiah used the image of the potter and clay to illustrate the people’s absolute dependence on God.

God had chosen the people of Israel, established a covenant with them and expected them to fulfill that covenant. Just as pottery making holds potential that the potter won’t like what is created so will destroy it, so it was with God and Israel. If Israel did not cooperate with God, then the people of Israel could be destroyed and others used to carry out God’s purposes. The fact they were chose did not insulate them from God’s judgment. Israel was expected to be different. But we all know the biblical story. God had to send Jesus to accomplish the salvation of the world. As followers of Jesus, we are expected to be molded by God’s hands – to let our lives to become clay in the potter’s hands.

God is working in our lives today. We are dependent upon God as we attempt to increase our understanding of God and God’s purposes. We are dependent upon God as we continue as disciples of Jesus. We are dependent upon God as we support others. God’s guidance, counsel, correction and love are essential for our individual and collective journeys. Just as the potter works diligently to make the perfect vase or bowl, so we must be diligent in our work of spiritual enrichment, community building and service. God’s hand is the guide, but the choices are ours as we live our lives I faith and service.

Adelaide A. Pollard wrote many years ago:
“Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter; I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after they will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.
May this be our prayer.

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.