Starting Over

I’ve recently been reading about the life of Jeremiah. An Old Time God man that lived loud and worthy. Born into a time when Israel had lost its way, its leaders where idol worshipers inspired only by lust, fueled by evil and self interest. Jeremiah started young, its one of my favourite narratives in his story line. Scholars write that Jeremiah’s mouth was touched with the fire of God. Most theologians suggest his prophetic ministry spanned half a century, he ran his race. And how can you reflect on him without echoing his inspired heavenly promise “for I know the thoughts I have towards you, peace and hope; a future.”

But it’s his choice of analogy that speaks one of the most prolific truths found in the eighteenth chapter of his book, the Potter and the Clay.

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 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.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 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”.

First thing being first, the maker of heaven and earth has a message for his people! Before we reflect on the substance we must dwell on the reality, God wishes to speak with you!

For reasons I can’t explain though I suspect it has to do with my broken humanity, this phenomenon should wake me from my stupor keeping my eyes wide open. The awe and wonder that hides within this moment should, by its nature and significance, leave me breathless. From first things first we now read the message of the potter and the clay and discover meaning.
The potter is always working at the wheel. God is constantly shaping us, refining and defining. Through circumstance as we return to him, he softens the rough edges revealing hidden beauty. “So the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again.” The reality of our God walk is that we ‘start over’ — it’s the classic ‘re-do’ when things don’t work out as we had hoped. So like Jeremiah we go back to the Potter and allow him to do his work. This means that we have to be stripped back to the lump of mud and water to be reformed and renewed. It’s how God makes us great, by breaking us down only to be rebuilt all over again.
That’s what repentance calls for, a turn around and a start over. But here-in lies the problem, starting over often feels like going backwards, a waste of time. Psalm 31:15 says “Our times are in His hands.” Rebuilding and starting over requires a relentless trust, a surrender in leering the potters hands to their work as our beauty is found in the ashes of what’s been burnt. Knowing that regrowth requires some level of burning down, breaking and striping back.

So, let’s again consider Jeremiah 18:1-6 in the words of Eugene Peterson

1 God told Jeremiah, 2 “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.” 3 So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. 4 Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot. 5 Then God’s Message came to me: 6 “Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel.

Starting over, a great place to begin.


Messages from the Hill (Part 2)

In a recent social media post I shared a biblical theme that is a constant thread from Genesis to Revelation and here it is; when God speaks He always whispers change!
When Jesus began to build His band of brothers, the disciples, he approached the one called Peter and prophesied ‘if you follow me I will transform you’. If our Christian walk seeks truth, it’s echoed in our transformation.
There are various forms of changes, in terms of time it can come incrementally or in leaps and bounds, however change is what’s important (whether it’s dollars or cents) (sorry, that’s a poor joke even for me). And so this leads me to Part 2 of our ‘Message from the Hill’ where Jesus presents the Beatitudes.
The significance in simple Gospel truth is impossible to quantify. The magnitude of this moment that started on a hill near Capernaum continues to echo down through the generations for me and for you. In them is heaven’s whisper to change — blessed are the meek and those who mourn, be happy with un-explainable joy when you’re persecuted, ridiculed and shamed for doing what is right!
Does anyone want to confess what we’ve all thought when reading this — Jesus are you crazy? But this form of revolutionary thinking is the hallmark of the ‘God’ walk. This ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘love your neighbour’, ‘show tender mercy’ display is a disciple’s default position. It’s not crazy, just different! And that is the substance of the Beatitudes, just a beautiful-attitude that goes against the grain and swims against the tide upstream.
Consider the story of the Good Samaritan. The common good is not common practice, even in Christian circles, another supreme example of ‘not crazy, just different’ as the Samaritan stops to bend down and pick up, to show Jesus. In what part of your life is God whispering ‘change’ today?
Maybe there’s a Beatitude quality that God is prodding you on, a nudge towards showing mercy for you have received mercy. Or maybe God is reminding you of your need for Him, does anyone not need God more? Or maybe today, you just need to hear that following Christian values is not crazy, just different and isn’t that who and what we are called to be?