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His Workmanship

Have you ever watched a potter at his work? It is fascinating to see him throw his lump of clay on the wheel, and as it swirls around, to watch the vessel rising beneath his hands. The potter's face is full of interest, his attention deeply concentrated on the job in hand. In his mind's eye he can see the finished product, and beneath his skilful fingers it takes shape, until there stands before him the very vessel he had planned to make.

Jeremiah the prophet was told, "Arise, and go down to the potter's house" for there was a lesson God wanted him to learn. For Christians too, there are important lessons to be learned in the potter's house. Isaiah said, "0 LORD, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand" (64:8). God started to work in us when we got saved, and Philippians 2:13 says He is working for His good pleasure. "As the clay in the potter's band, so are ye in Mine hand", He says (Jer. 18:6). He has a plan in mind for each of our lives. If we allow Him, He will work it out and shape us for His glory.

The craft of the potter has changed very little from the days when Isaiah and Jeremiah watched them at their work. They still use a wheel and the same common clay. But have you ever thought that is the very thing the potter needs? Indeed, nothing else will do. Clay has the properties he requires; it yields to the pressure of his hands, and holds the impression that he makes. So he works with his clay and Out of it makes a vessel unto honour, some of such honour that hundreds of years later they are much sought after and huge prices are paid for them.

"A vessel unto honour, sanctified, meet for the Master's use", wrote Paul to Timothy, and every Christian who wants to please the Lord should carefully note what he said (2 Tim. 2:21). We may not be clever or have many talents, but in the potter's house we learn that that does not necessarily matter, for the skilfulness lies entirely with the divine Potter. Willingness to yield to the pressure of His hands is the thing that counts. The hymn puts it well:

Have Thine own way, lord, have Thine own way,

Thou art the Potter, l am the clay;

Mould me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, yielded and still.

We have thought of the potter and his clay, but what of the wheel on which he works? Has it not a likeness to the wheel of life's daily round, to the "all things" which work together for our good? Oftentimes they may not be pleasant things, and some of life's experiences may cause us pain and sadness. But if we remember that the divine Potter is at work we shall accept them more easily, knowing that by these means He is shaping us for His usefulness. The apostle Paul touches the very point when he asks, "Hath not the Potter a right over the clay?" (Rom. 9:21). Of course He has. And when we acknowledge that, all the vexations fade away.

Christian, we are not our own. We have been bought with a price. The One who died for us claims us by right of purchase. Only let us recognize that and life will take on a new and glorious meaning as we co-operate with the Potter in His fashioning of our common clay into a vessel which He can use.