(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
When it comes to interpreting Scripture, we are hesitant to speculate what might have been, but is not recorded in holy writ! But I have often thought of what is not written in Jeremiah 18:1 through 4. Here are these four verses as translated in the New King James Bible:
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at his 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.
What this Scripture doesn’t say is what the potter did with the clay after the first vessel he was making was marred, and before he made the second vessel! Let’s use some sacred imagination to see what happened.
The clay upon the potter’s wheel had been worked to get it into proper condition, called ‘pugging.’ Pugging means, “The act or process of working and tempering clay to make it plastic and of uniform consistency…” (www.wordnik.com). But, apparently, there was a hard lump in the clay that had not been worked out! So when the potter was turning the clay on his wheel, perhaps making a jug or a bowl, and when he was thinning out the sides of the vessel, his fingers struck the hard knot of unworked clay, and the whole vessel suddenly went cockeyed (or “…was marred…”)! Here is where sacred imagination comes in.
- The potter sat there for a moment, looking at the ruined vessel. But it had happened multiple times before in his long career as a potter, and he knew what to do!
- He examined the marred clay to see exactly where the hard lump was that had not been properly pugged.
- He scraped the clay from his turning wheel and began to knead it, to feel the consistency of the lump, and to seek if any other small lumps had escaped the pugging process.
- The potter then threw the clay hard upon the sturdy stone wheel, now still from turning, and began to deeply knead it, concentrating on the hard lump.
- He added a bit of water to make the clay more malleable, and continued kneading it, at times scraping it off the wheel and throwing it on the stone surface again.
- Finally, he had the clay of a good workable consistency, and…
“…he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”
Why are we applying sacred imagination to this potter’s house scene? Because this is a picture of what God is doing to and for His children! We are told in Hebrews 12:7 through 11 (Contemporary English Version):
Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats His children. Don't all parents correct their children? God corrects all of His children, and if He doesn't correct you, then you don't really be- long to Him. Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn't it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us? Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because He wants us to be holy, as He is. It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace.
The Father’s purpose for each of His children is clearly defined in Romans 8:29: “…whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son….” God’s purpose is to make each believer into the image of Jesus Christ! (see also I Corinthians 15:48, 49; II Corinthians 3:18; I John 3:2).
- But to be like Jesus, God has a lot of work to do in my life and yours!
- As He molds us into the image of His Son, we will present hard lumps of rebellion that have not been properly ‘pugged ’!
- When that happens, the Father will…
✞ ...look us over, knowing exactly what He must do... ✞ ...scrape us off the formation wheel... ✞ ...knead us to break down the tough spots and hard lumps... ✞ ...add a little heavenly moisture to make us more pliable... ✞ ...occasionally throw us forcefully onto the formation wheel to break the rebellious places in our life...
…until the Father gets what He wants,
a child of God who truly represents Him!
We can do two things if we are being corrected by our Heavenly Father:
- We can fight His discipline tooth and nail because we, like a stubborn child are saying, “I DON’T WANNA!”
- We can submit, knowing that, even in painful discipline, “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
It will not only be so much easier on us to submit to the Father’s discipline, but…
…being made more and more like Jesus,
we will bring glory to God,
our Heavenly Father!