I’m fascinated by the story of the potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18. There are so many things that we can learn from that story. I’ve blogger before about being shaped by the Potter and about six months ago I blogged about the limits and potential in being shaped in a post, Vocation and Identity: Part 3–Limitations and Possibilities.
I don’t want to reiterate what I have written before, but I just have a couple of observations:
1) Doesn’t it seem that when we stop trying to “manufacture” or produce things in our life ourselves, that things actually begin to open up? Like when we stop pressing for that career, or that relationship, or that one desire, and actually let go of it, things actually turn our way…and not our way in the way that we had wanted it….but better.
There are several amazing things happening in my life right now, and it seems that they have only come about because I finally let go of them within the last year or so…I stopped trying to bring those things about myself or “manufacture” them.
2) Doesn’t it seem that if God (the Potter) continually has His hand upon us, shaping us, then He will shape us into what seems fit? But we often, and I would say most often, resist His shaping by continually trying to do things our way.
Sometimes we have to let go of things in our life: dreams, relationships, goals, certain career achievements….fill in the blank here. When we finally let go, we stop resisting God’s shaping of us, and allow Him to freely shape us into something better. Into who He created us to be.
That’s all for now…here are a couple of killer quotes from those two previous posts:
“The skill of the divine potter is an infinite patience of improvisation. No sooner has one work gone awry than his fingers are pressing it into the form of another. There is never a moment for the clay, when the potter is not doing something with it. God is never standing back and watching us; his fingers are on us all the time,” (Austin Farrer quoted in Susan Howatch, Absolute Truths, 482).
“Everything in the universe has a nature, which means limits as well as potentials, a truth well known by people who work daily with the things of the world. Making pottery, for example, involves more than telling the clay what to become. The clay presses back on the potter’s hands, telling her what it can and cannot do–and if she fails to listen, the outcome will be both frail and ungainly. Engineering involves more than telling materials what they must do. If the engineer does not honor the nature of the steel or the wood or the stone, his failure will go beyond aesthetics: the bridge or the building will collapse and put human life in peril.
The human self also has a nature, limits as well as potentials. If you seek vocation without understanding the material you are working with, what you build with your life will be ungainly and may well put lives in peril, your own and some of those around you. “Faking it” in the service of high values is no virtue and has nothing to do with vocation. It is an ignorant, sometimes arrogant, attempt to override one’s nature, and it will always fail.
Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world. True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.'” (Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer, pp. 15-16)