Thursday, November 11

Form and Function

Read Jeremiah 18:1-10, and Isaiah 64

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 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. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord.
“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”

I mentioned in a previous post the love affair I had with a casserole dish. A brief and torrid romance such as it was could not have lasted. If I learned anything, besides that I have a sickness when it comes to kitchen gear and the color turquoise, I learned that the combination of form and function make a nearly irresistible package. When something is useful, it is a good thing. When something is both lovely and useful, it is ideal.

Often things only have both form and function in the Pottery Barn catalogue. Real life presents odd-sized items that don’t fit into perfect cubes. Real life brings miniature tornadoes in the form of toddlers and their curious older siblings. Is form and function possible in real life?

The Bible tells us the Lord “makes everything beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Paul tells the Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6). These two passages show us that God values beauty and he intends to finish his project—that would be us. I don’t know about you, but I have a rather embarrassing number of unfinished projects about my house. I’m so glad God doesn’t work the same way!

The things that remain unfinished in us likely have to do with us being un-malleable rather than God losing interest in a project that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Our job in the Potter’s Master plan is to yield our will to his and let him make us something useful. Character formation can be a slow, tedious, painful process. Ecclesiastes reminds us that beauty happens “in HIS time.” Philippians says the work on us will continue “until the day of Christ Jesus.” It could take a while. Our job is just to spin and be pressed until we move the way he wants us to.

Easier said than done, right? We want our own way. We want to be useful—as long as it’s the way we want to be used. We want to be beautiful—as long as its our version of beautiful. Maybe we have convinced ourselves that we can only be one or the other and the composite is a dream as impossible as Pottery Barn perfection. But in the words of Isaiah, “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘what are you making?’” Clay has no business questioning the potter. The very idea is absurd. So should our questions be.

The words God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah might as well be personalized for each of us. “Can I not do with you, Andrea, what this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hands of the potter, you are in my hand, Andrea.” As followers of Jesus, we inherit the promises of God. Go ahead. Plug your name in there. God is just waiting for you to relax under his touch so he can make you something wonderful.

“…since God had planned something better for us 
so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40).

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