God is the Potter

The following is a re-post of a reflection originally published on my “old” blog, Martha’s Heart, on July 29, 2010.  Jer 18:1-6 was today’s Mass reading, as it was on the day of this original post.  It reminds me that God is the potter, and I am the clay, on a day when I was already praying to do better than I did yesterday, when stress and frustration had my head spinning and my voice raised toward the children.

Once again, I find myself praying that God will mold me into a vessel that is pleasing to Him.

Malleable

So often, I have moments in which I am clearly not the person God wants me to be.  This morning was a perfect example.  I was a grouch, largely because I used old coffee beans and my coffee tasted terrible.  Silly, yes, but true none-the-less.  It got my day off to a bad start and I was taking it out on my husband and kids.

It is moments like these that make Jer 18:1-6 so precious to me:

Whenever the object of clay which he was making
turned out badly in his hand,
he tried again,
making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased. (Jer 18:4)

God is the potter, and we are the clay.  He will not throw us away just because we are not the people He wants us to be.  Instead, he will try again, and again, and again.  The key is that we, the clay, must not harden ourselves against Him.  We must remain malleable, open to His word, His voice, His constant presence in our lives.

This morning, saying grace before breakfast reminded me that I could turn to God to help me improve my mood, so I asked Him to do just that.  As usual, prayer turned my day around.  It reminded me that I had to bend, rather than staying rigid.  It reminded me of my need for God’s grace and wisdom in my life.

Father, please help me to be the person you want me to be.  In moments when I begin to turn bad, please help me to remember that I must remain open to you, malleable in your all-capable hands.  Make me a vessel that is pleasing to you.

Potter's wheel
Potter’s Wheel, by Ravindra Prabhat, Image courtesy www.wikimedia.org

Jeremiah’s Dirty Loincloth and Christian Obedience

In Jeremiah 13, God told the prophet Jeremiah to go and buy himself a linen loincloth, wear it, but don’t wash it.  So Jeremiah did.

Click!
Michelangelo’s Jeremiah, from the Sistine Chapel, image courtesy Web Gallery of Art, www.wga.hu

Next, God told him to go to the Parath and bury the loincloth.  So Jeremiah did.

Finally, after some lengthy period of time, God told him to go retrieve the buried loincloth.  And so Jeremiah did.

Most of us would have responded to God’ first command with, “But, why?  Why do you want me to buy this loincloth?  Does it have to be linen?  I prefer silk.  And why can’t I wash it?  That’s gross.  How about if I wear it for a few days – I’ll even spring for three.  Then I’ll just put it in a bag, carefully sealed, so the stink doesn’t escape.”

To the second command, we might have responded, “The Parath is a long ways away.  I’ll go, but only if I have a horse and chariot to carry me there.  And food for the journey.  And a place to stay overnight, so I can be well rested.  As a matter of fact, isn’t it silly to go all that way, just to bury a piece of dirty cloth?  How about if I bury it in the desert, just outside the city, or – better yet – in my back yard?  Surely, that would work, Lord, right?  You don’t really want me to have to go all that way, I’m sure of it!”

And to the third, we’d likely have said, “Oh, come on!  Enough of this already!  I did what you wanted the first two times – or near enough.  Now you want me to go unearth the thing?  It’ll probably have bugs on it, it’ll be even dirtier than it was before, and I doubt I can even find it in the first place!  And if you want me to wear it afterward, you’d better believe I’m going to wash it first!”

God asks our obedience in all matters.  Obedience to God is never blind, but rather trusting, trusting that He will never lead us astray, but lead us to sanctification.  Even when we do not understand why we must do this thing or that thing, or not do this thing or that thing, we must trust that our obedience will never lead us away from God, but toward him.

In what matters do you find obedience difficult?  For many of us, it might be the Church’s teaching on contraception, marriage between a man and a woman, drunkenness, intimacy outside of marriage, divorce, or to attend Mass regularly and go to confession.

Or, perhaps, it’s obedience to that nudge of the Spirit to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, or to forgive willingly.

Obedience is never easy, nor is it meant to be.  It is through the trials of obedience that we draw closer to Christ, clinging to him as the Israelites failed to do in Jeremiah’s time, and as many (most?) of us fail to do in our time as well.

When Jeremiah unearthed the loincloth, he found that it had rotted.  The Lord spoke to him, saying, “So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot… This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods… shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing.” (Jer. 13:9-10)

Does that sound to you like it could easily be an indictment of the people of our age?  In some matters, is it an indictment of you and of me?

The Lord also said to Jeremiah, “For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me… to be my people, my beauty.  But they did not listen.” (Jer. 13:11)

We were made to cling to God – to Christ.  We were made to be His people, His beauty.

May we listen.

 

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