- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2000

The prophet Jeremiah [18:1-6] was disheartened. He was distraught that the nation of Judah had broken away from the one true God. They had turned to other ways, and Jeremiah did not know what to do.
God spoke to him, saying, "Go down to the potter's house." Being obedient to the Lord, Jeremiah went down, and found the potter at his wheel, working the pedals, and with his hands forming the vessel.
That vessel, however, became marred in his hands, perhaps from an air bubble, a grain or poor texture. But instead of casting it aside, the potter worked patiently to rework that clay into another vessel that was pleasing to the sight… .
You see, Albright, God is the potter and we are the clay. Just as the potter had a purpose in the clay, God has a purpose for each one of our lives. The potter pushed the clay side to side, and so it may be that disappointments and disruptions in our life may be God's way to effect His purpose… .
God can take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. He can take our ugliness and make it into a vessel of beauty. He can convert our trials into triumphs. The Bible is full of men and women who were marred as vessels.
Moses killed a man, but God took him to the back side of the mountain and molded him into a leader of his people. When Jacob wrestled the angel, God molded him, putting away his cunning and giving him the new name Israel.
He turned David the king into a vessel who wrote songs of praise and thanksgiving to Him. Peter denied Jesus, but the Lord changed him into another vessel; on the day of Pentecost, he preached and 3,000 souls were saved. Saul had gone about persecuting the children of God. Then, on the road to Damascus, the Potter shaped Saul into another vessel. He became Paul, a mighty Christian… .
No one is beyond restoring and reviving. The Potter is always at work, taking out the sin, flaws and rebelliousness that make us unfit vessels for Him. Solomon once said, "I am so glad human imperfections are not grounds for divine rejection." …
On this Christian journey, we need the work of the Holy Spirit, shaping and perfecting us… . The Lord our God is not distraught and distressed at the inconsistencies and deficiencies in our lives. He can make us and mold us after His image. Nothing is impossible with Him… .
In the fight against slavery, the poems of Phyllis Wheatley provided hope for her people. During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, the black church led the effort to end racial segregation. Even though many churches were bombed, the black church still prevailed.
Thanks to the Potter, Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1939, Marian Anderson, one of the most famous opera singers in the world, was barred from singing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The Lord our God remolded her, and on Easter morning, she performed at the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people.
The great Jackie Robinson was almost barred from playing in the major leagues. However, God worked in Robinson's life. He became the first black to compete in the World Series… .
We know He is the master potter. If the devil had his way, we would have been cast aside like useless clay. I thank the Lord today, for He has delivered us through the ups and the downs, through the storms and the rains, and all by His hand… .
If God is the potter, we have to let Him have His way in our lives. The Christian journey is not about us, it is about the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ… . When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, "God, the Father. Not my will, but thy will be done." As the songwriter says, "Thy Way, Oh Lord, Not Mine."


Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Tom Berlin at Flores United Methodist Church in Herndon, Va.

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