Formed by the Word, Filled by the Spirit

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January 25, 2022

Jeremiah 18:1-6 NIV

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.

CONSIDER THIS

Sometimes I can get so immersed into what I’m thinking about, talking about, teaching or doing that I can lose perspective on the big picture. That’s when I run into a text like Jeremiah 18:1-6. We have been focusing so much of late on being immersed in the well of the Word of God. I thought it might be good to send up a drone camera that could give us a bird’s eye view of what is happening as a result of our practices of immersion. Aristotle said the soul never thinks without a picture, which I think he must have learned from Jeremiah. Jeremiah gives us a marvelous picture in this word from God about the potter’s wheel. 

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.

We are being shaped—formed by the Word—in order that we might be filled by the Spirit. 

We are the clay. The Word of God in the hands of Jesus by the Living Water who is the Holy Spirit forms and shapes us into holy vessels able to hold, display and convey the presence of God. I think the most important insight from the text is that the clay does not shape itself. The clay does not tell the potter what to make of it. 

I was talking to Taylor Gindlesberger (who serves on the Seedbed FarmTeam), who is also our resident potter*. As a seminary trained student of Scripture she commented how most people neglect the real context of the text, noting how Jeremiah was warning of the immanent destruction of Israel if they did not repent. She then said an interesting thing about the nature of clay. She talked about how she has a large bucket filled with scraps of clay that for whatever reason didn’t work out the first time on the wheel. She noted how those scraps get dried out and the reason she puts them in the bucket is so she can fill it with water to recondition the clay to be re-shaped on the wheel later. The experience of the immersion of the clay in the water effectively makes it like new again. It reminded me of the rest of today’s text:

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.

Taylor spoke of how this encourages her faith—that she is not in charge of working to get her life shaped right. She said she is learning to rest like the clay immersed in the Word and Spirit and becoming responsive to the initiative of Jesus rather than needing to bring the initiative herself. And then she said the most brilliant thing of all. “I am learning how God pulls together all the broken pieces of all our lives and refashions us into a beautiful vessel we could have never even imagined.”  

THE PRAYER

Yes, Lord, you are the potter and we are the clay. Thank you for the way you form us by your Word, shape us by your Spirit that we might be filled with your very splendor. Thank you for the way you pick up the broken pieces, immerse them in the water of your Word and Spirit and bring them forward for yet more shaping and crafting. I don’t want to resist your work. I want to trust my life into your hands—completely. You made me. Only you can remake me. I trust you, Jesus. Amen. 

THE QUESTION

How do you understand the ways in which you are being shaped and formed by the Word of God these days? Are you learning the lesson that you are not the potter—that Jesus is? Are you learning to be more responsive and less restless and determined by your own initiative and activity? It’s a hard lesson to learn. Sometimes it takes a season in the bucket with the scraps. ;0) 

*P.S.

If you want to take a look at Taylor’s fabulous pottery you can see it here. Be aware, she has sold out of all her inventory and is not taking orders at the moment. With a new baby on the way within weeks it will be a bit before she builds back up. Check back around the holidays. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

1 COMMENT

  1. JD, the analogy of scraps of prior pottery attempts in a bucket of water, brought to mind a different picture in my mind. I envisioned the broken pieces as former members of the institutional church, as shards being saturated with the living water of the Holy Spirit, so God can remold them into a new form of a useful, corporate vessel. Hopefully this might come to fruition.

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