Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pliable Clay

Restlessness or peace? Unyielding or pliable? Cain or Hope? Over the past week, I considered my answers to these question. As a believer in Christ Jesus, I want my answers to be peace, pliable, and Hope. But sometimes I choose poorly. I allow sin and circumstances to override my good judgment, causing me to wander in the land of Nod. Anxiety agitates within my spirit until I finally wise up and fall to my knees in surrender to my Savior Jesus Christ. Shower time!
Grace, amazing grace, saves us wretches when we choose to surrender and believe on the name of Jesus. Grace relieves our fears and settles our restless souls. No matter what we’ve done, God waits with soap and a wash cloth (it’s really His blood that washes us) to shower us in His grace. Even though we may endure a lifetime of consequences from bad choices, He still wants to clean us up with His gift of grace. 
After Cain murdered his brother, he lost his job as a farmer (Genesis 4). He was cursed from the ground because of the blood of his brother, making him a wanderer. To protect him from being killed, God put a mark of grace on his head. Yet this drifter roamed in an unsettled state. Is it possible that Cain’s restlessness eventually caused him to reflect on his sin and God’s grace? Was it God’s plan to give Him time to reflect on what he had done and then repent of his sin? 
Our gracious and merciful God wants His children to choose life. As the apostle Peter states in 2 Peter 3:9, “Do not ever make the mistake of regarding the longsuffering of God as weakness, but it is rather his mercy, it is his grace, giving men time to repent in order that none may perish but that all may come to repentance.” God loves us and He wants us to live with Him eternally. He desires the time suffered through our consequences to cause us to run toward His grace. But even though God is longsuffering toward us, we shouldn’t be presumptuous about how long He’ll wait. Instead we should use the time to repent and change. 
Repent and change—words echoing through the ages from God and His prophets. Fast forward hundreds of years and we see Israel making the same regretful choices as Cain. God wanted His people to return to Him and He chose many different prophets, one being Jeremiah, to proclaim His word to them. He sent Jeremiah to a potter’s house for a symbolic illustration of the Sovereignty of God and the response of His people (Jeremiah 18:1-12). 
Jeremiah observed a potter working with a marred piece of clay. The potter fixed his eyes on the clay and patiently worked on the distressed piece. He faithfully fashioned the clay on the wheel until he created a beautiful vessel, and it pleased him. 

Then God said to Jeremiah, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).

God planned a promising future for His people during Jeremiah’s time (Jeremiah 29:11-14) and His plans hold true today. He desired for His people to turn from their evil ways, seek Him, and obey His voice. He desires the same for us today. He showed them the blessings and the curses of their choices in Deuteronomy and told them to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:14-20). His truth still stands today.

Grace coats the Potter’s hands and He yearns to create a masterpiece. But He will not force His will on us. He offers us the choice to choose grace, as He did with Israel.

When Jeremiah understood the potter/clay illustration, he went before God’s people and told them to return to God. Unfortunately they said, “It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:12).

How sad! Like Cain, the house of Israel chose to go their own way and follow their own plans. They chose a life of restlessness and lived out the consequences of their choices (God later allowed Babylon to conquer them.) Did their distress and anxiety eventually drive them back into the loving hands of their Redeemer? Did they ever completely trust the Potter with their very existence? 

Have you ever felt hopeless like the Israelites? If so, KNOW, without doubt, that all is not hopeless and everything is possible with God (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27). He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). Scripture confirms His word over and over again. Focus on the hope of His promises right now:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness. Psalm 33:18 (NASB)

For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 (NASB)

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. Psalm 71:5 (NASB)

O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. Psalm 130:7 (NASB)

Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things. Jeremiah 14:22 (NASB)

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

“There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord, “And your children will return to their own territory. Jeremiah 31:17 (NASB)

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23 (NIV)

God’s got big plans for us, His people, plans for well-being in our future. Yet He allows us to accept or reject His graciousness. We decide whether to be malleable in His hands or reject His graceful design for our lives. Do we prefer God’s perfect rest or Nod’s restlessness? Will we choose to live according to His plans or follow our own plans? 

God’s grace is limitless and infinite. His mercy endures forever and is given to all who call on the  name of Jesus Christ. Return to the presence of the Lord, surrender your will to His Sovereignty, and place your pliable clay in the loving hands of the Potter. His grace will rain down upon you and will reign over you! Oh, to be wet in the showers of His grace!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NASB)

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