October 9, 2017 • Life for Leaders
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?”
Through Isaiah, the Lord made known his plans to use Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. Of course, this meant that the Israelites would be subject to Cyrus… not exactly the kind of restoration they would have wanted. Surely it was tempting for them to question God’s plans, to doubt his wisdom or goodness.
Yet the Lord points out the folly of such arguments. “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’?” (45:9). Of course not. The potter has the right to form the clay according to the potter’s own design. The picture of the arguing clay pot is a silly one.
And yet, aren’t we ourselves tempted to be silly at times? I know I am. And sometimes I give in to that temptation.
When God works in our lives in ways that don’t make sense to us—or when he appears not to be working at all—it’s tempting to take on the role of the arguing clay pot. In his mercy, God is not put off by our questions and doubts. In fact, portions of Scripture encourage this kind of blunt honesty with God. See, for example, the book of Job. But, in the end, we find that we have no other reasonable choice besides trusting God and his ways, even when they confuse or distress us.
Our confidence in God’s wisdom and goodness allows us to put our trust in him, to become willing clay. We know that, like a master potter, God is forming us into the very image of Christ, even if we can’t quite understand his process.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have you taken on the role of the arguing clay?
What motivated you to question God’s plans?
What helps you to become trusting and willing clay?
Looking back on your life, can you see how God has used difficult and/or confusing experiences to shape you to be more like Christ?
Gracious God, I do affirm your goodness and wisdom. I do believe that your work in my life is masterful. But when I can’t understand what you’re doing, when hardship comes my way, when things don’t work out as I think they should, then I find it easy to question, to argue, even to doubt. I wonder where you are and what you are doing. I can play the role of the arguing clay pot with the best of them.
Thank you for accepting me as I am. Thank you for the privilege of being able to approach you with boldness. Thank you for putting up with me, for your patience and mercy.
Help me, dear Lord, to trust you more each day. When you are molding me in ways I don’t understand, may I continue to have confidence that you are doing what is best in my life. I pray for vision to see your work in me, so that I may cooperate with you and rejoice in your presence. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Potter and the Clay
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Thank you, and call me Clay. This is a real & challenging place to be, see or understand; when there comes a shift or movement w/ur faith, prayer, tradition and life experiences persistently inquiring, Who do u say I am? Thk u for suggesting an honest & soulful conversation, instead of remaining stagnant or stumped. God bless!
Thanks, Wanda, AKA Clay, for this thoughtful comment.
Life in Lockdown: Creative Use of Technology
Thank you for this encouragement. I downloaded 3 coloring pages from Baptist Global Response that were beautifully drawn, so relaxing after working to color. I dawned on me as I finished them that I could mail them to friends with a quick note on the back and so I sent them off. Our church has a letter writing ministry for those alone at this time and honestly I get more out of writing “my” 4 ladies then I am sure they get from the letter. I only know one by sight but God always provides me with words of encouragement and ideas to share. My d-i-l sheltering with us decorated the envelopes this week for me as she was writing note cards to each of her high school math students. Thank you for “being” in my in box daily – the encouragement means the world.
Blessings from Viriginia
Thanks Denise for sharing your comment and your story. Blessings to you! – Mark