“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the Lord. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!’” (Jeremiah 18:5-6).
How often have we sung the lyrics, “Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still”. These lyrics were written by Adelaide A. Pollard. In 1902, Adelaide A. Pollard, a hymn writer, was hoping to go to Africa as a missionary but found herself unable to raise the needed funds to make the journey. Greatly discouraged, she attended a prayer service one evening and as she sat there, she overheard an elderly woman say "It really doesn't matter what you do with us, Lord, just have your own way with our lives." The elderly woman inspired Pollard and she contemplated the story of the potter from Jeremiah 18:3 and, upon her return home that evening, wrote all four stanzas before retiring for the night.
God has Jeremiah go down to a potter’s house and observe the potter at work to illustrate a point the Lord wants to make regarding His relationship with His people. “Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:3-4). As the opening verses above indicate, through Jeremiah God reminds His people that He is the Potter and they are the clay (Jeremiah 18:5-6).
Nations are described as being clay in God’s hands. God describes how He is able to fashion them in His hands. “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
God warns the nation of Judah of His plans for her because of her sins. “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the Lord: "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good" ' " (Jeremiah 18:11).
Sadly, God people rebel at his offer. “And they said, ‘That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart’" (Jeremiah 18:12). In the next chapter of Jeremiah, God will have Jeremiah dash a hardened potter’s vessel to illustrate God’s people’s hardening their hearts against Him, God’s upcoming punishment of them, and following their destruction no one would be able to put them back together, just as a potter’s vessel cannot be put back together after it has hardened and been broken (Jeremiah 19:1-15).
God is the Potter. I am the clay. I will learn the lesson from God and His people of how important it is for me to keep my heart soft towards God so He can continue to mold me and make me a vessel to His honor and glory. Today, I will sing, “Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Hold o'er my being absolute sway. Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!”
“Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments” (Psalm 119:73).