“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”
Even when we are broken, defeated, oppressed, or unstable, God can restore and bring about “beauty” from ashes, a “rock” out of sand and build an army from “dry bones”. Many of the stories in the Bible demonstrate this divine power and mercy of God, working in the midst of failures.
God’s covenant people, Israel, were defeated and oppressed in Isaiah 61:3. They were like ashes: without life or hope, ugly in grief and sorrow. Yet God promised to “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes”. Re-creation and restoration bring back dignity into our lives, and the Lord will accept us and work in us when we go to Him in our brokenness, in humility.
Peter, or whom Jesus called “Simon, son of John” was unstable, outspoken and impulsive by nature, and therefore unreliable, like “sand”. Yet, in John 1:42, Jesus said to Peter that he would be called “Cephas” or “rock”. God saw in Peter the inner man; He knew he was passionate in following and serving Jesus. Jesus created him into a “rock”, stable and unyielding to the evil forces of man.
The re-creation was not instant – Peter repeatedly failed to be strong in his faith, yet God, in His mercy, patiently persevered to mould and recreate fear into courage.
Thus Jesus said to Peter: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)
The Jewish diaspora were scattered like “dry bones” – they were defeated, disunited and lifeless because of their sinfulness. The Lord’s Spirit asked in Ezekiel 37:2 “Can these bones live?” but in Ezekiel 37:10, “they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army”.
No matter what condition they were in, God worked with and through His people, using His Word and His Spirit. Life entered their dry and defeated souls; they regained the strength to defeat their enemies. God transforms our failure into victory because we are His people.
Jeremiah 18:4 says, “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” The marred clay in the potter’s hand is not discarded but re-worked into a vessel of honour.
We too can be marred by a stubborn and rebellious nature. However, like the potter who perseveres in his desire to make a vessel of worth, God recreates us to bring us back to usefulness for His namesake and glory.
When God re-creates, He renews and restores us to dignity. It is not “second best” but the best. His re-creations reflect His image. Re-created and restored persons are used for the intended purposes of God and for His glory.
The Rev R. Prabhu was elected President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference in 2012 for the quadrennium. He is also Pastor-in-Charge of Ang Mo Kio Tamil and Seletar Tamil Methodist Churches.