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  • Writer's pictureBarry Norris

In the Potter's Hands

Why oh why do I continue to live here? Politics and taxes are the usual subjects underlying that lamentation. When I tire of crying over those subjects (without doing anything about them), I seem to turn my attention to our weather.

Weather cycles are upon us. The heat of summer is here. This has always been a place of chaos. If the reader is familiar with northern Illinois, you know already that we certainly experience all four seasons and sometimes within the same 24 hour period. Lovely.

Three weeks ago my lawn was a brilliant green, deep in color, and growing rapidly because of the combination of fertilizer plus rain. My son and I bagged 11 bags of grass just a month ago. Green and more green. Looking out the window today, I see just a hint of green in the grasses as it seems the Lord has brought a long drought upon us. Can a few weeks without rain define a drought?

If I walk on the grass today I experience a wonderful feeling of needle-like structures in my bare feet. The rain has stopped and the temperature is touching the 90 F mark and beyond. I recall my baseball days in this weather when sliding into second base would remind our parents of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Mom was so great at cleaning all that gear for tomorrow's game.

Lament. Lament. Lament.

Funny how life can change after you are so settled in and taking it easy. Believing all is just right.

I was reminded this week of a summer-long mission trip I made 22 years ago. It changed everything for me. I came home and began gibbering to my family, my pastor, and anyone who wouldn't laugh at me that the Lord Himself sent me to the other side of the world to teach English and returned me a broken man. A man who felt moved to minister to anyone who crossed his path by His Hand. On that trip, a young college student who traveled with us continually prayed to be 'broken'. I did not want to be 'broken'. I was just fine. Saw myself as good as the green grass. Day after day she prayed to have 'us to be broken' for Christ.

I came home broken. And only then did healing begin.

In the writing from the Prophet Jeremiah:

[Jer 18:1-4 ESV]

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 "Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words."

3 So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel.

4 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.

In my mission trip of 22 years ago, the Potter reworked me into another vessel, and it seemed good to the Potter to do.

The prayer of the college student on that trip was answered. Silly me, I assumed she was praying for herself.

How foolish I can be.

[Jer 18:5-6 ESV]

5 Then the word of the LORD came to me:

6 "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.

(I suggest the reader personalize this and substitute 'house of Israel' with your own name, family, or church).

A commentary I have at my side says the following: "The potter's wheel is a lesson in the absolute sovereignty of God. It puts an end to pride and silences every boast. ... The doctrinal point of this passage can be stated very simply: God can do whatever He wants with you. This is what it means for Him to be God. Because God is God, He is free to do whatever He pleases. In His hands rest all power, rule, control, authority, kingdom, government, and dominion."

I pay a significant amount of money to grow brilliant green grass and yet the Lord Himself turns it to needles and dust.

How foolish I can be.

Its time I pray to be broken in the Potter's Hand once again.

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