So I went down to the potter’s house and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. (Jeremiah 18:3&4 NIV). As I listened to a preacher read these verses, the words, like a river, seemed to carry me back over the years and thousands of miles away.
I was, once again, a little girl in a cotton dress and rubber flip flops, standing in the sun- baked yard of the village potter, near our home in Trinidad, West Indies. It was mesmerizing to watch him work. A small man, and very dark skinned, he sat hunched over the wheel, clad only in a pair of tattered shorts. His feet, calloused and cracked and dusty, worked the pedal that made the wheel go around. Fascinated, I would stand there and watch him work, while disinterested chickens wandered through the yard, scratching in the dust and pecking at the few sparse clumps of dry grass.
“The pottery man” as we called him, would take a lump of red clay and thump it onto his wheel. As he pumped the pedal, the wheel would begin to turn...slowly at first, and then faster and faster. With just a slight movement of his thumbs, or a flexing of his hands, the potter would transform that wet red clay into pots and bowls and jugs and vases. I never knew what was coming. It was sheer magic to me, and I longed to touch that clay...but never did.
Sometimes in all that spinning, his hand would suddenly be caught by a small stone or other flaw in the clay, and the design would be marred. At other times, the pot would become unbalanced, and wobble, then topple. The pottery man would gather the clay back up in his hands, press it together, set it back in the center of the wheel and start over.
Thirty five years later, and a world away from my childhood home, these colorful scenes remain etched in my mind. Perhaps that is why these verses so blessed me when I listened to the preacher read them. God is the potter. I am the clay. He has a plan for me, a vision for my life. He tells me so in Jeremiah 29:11.
Sometimes my imperfections and resistance mar his plan. That opportunity or role that I might have enjoyed is lost. But he doesn’t give up. I never leave his hands. He presses and molds and works me into a different pot, as he sees fit. By amazing grace he is the God of second chances. I love the way Anne Graham Lotz expresses it in her book “My Jesus is Everything”. She says “He’s the God of the second chance, the fat chance, the slim chance, and the no chance...”
I am richly blessed and deeply grateful to be a lump of clay in the Master Potter’s hands.