Editor’s note: This week we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. In honor of the countless teachers that make Christian ministry possible, today’s devotion comes from the Shaped to Serve devotion book. Use these words to encourage those who serve in your ministry and, if you’re looking for an end-of-year appreciation gift, browse through CTA’s selection today!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, “What are you making?” or “Your work has no handles”? (Isaiah 45:9 ESV).
When it comes to art, especially pottery, every customer’s a critic. Is it blue? Then only red will do. Is it large? Then it won’t fit. Is it a tea cup? Beautiful, but with two tweaks, it would have made a perfect coffee mug.
The critics ignore one obvious fact: all great artisans begin with the end in mind. The pottery they create did not turn blue accidentally. It started out as blue in the mind of the potter. It started out in the artisan’s mind this tall, this wide. It started out as a tea cup—and specifically that!
The Bible tells us that in Eden, our Creator “formed the man of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). The word formed here is the word commonly used in Old Testament times to describe a potter “forming” the clay.
The Lord’s formation process was not willy-nilly. It was not make-it-up-as-you-go-along. It was deliberate, careful, purposeful. In fact, before the creation of the world, the Lord had every detail clearly in mind.
To Adam, as to each of his human creations since that day, the Creator has said:
Thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1 ESV).
Sadly though, each of God’s human creations from Adam onward has responded to the Lord’s creative claim by rebelling. The clay turns to the potter to say:
- What do you think you are making?
- This isn’t the life I had in mind.
- Blue is not a good color for me.
In perfect justice, our Creator could have thrown us, along with our misshapen attitudes and warped words of complaint, to the ground, shattering us to shards and walking away. But he did not.
Our rebellion did not take the divine Potter by surprise—not one little bit. In his eternal plan for our creation, the Creator had embedded a parallel plan for our restoration. His ultimate goal is our blessedness, our perfection, our complete holiness. Abundant life! Amazing, flawless beauty!
The path to our restoration took the Son of God from heaven’s glories to Bethlehem’s manger. It took him into gory suffering on Calvary’s shameful cross. It took him into death and back out of the tomb into resurrection.
And today, right now, the door to life—eternal, abundant life—stands open wide for all who trust in Jesus Christ and his saving work.
For now, we live as common clay pots. We are stained by sin. We are scuffed and chipped by life’s hard knocks. Most of us think of ourselves as nothing special.
But consider: In the ancient world, few people had access to banks. To keep precious stones or jewelry safe from thieves, owners would hide these items inside ordinary clay jars.
Similarly, our Creator has entrusted to us a treasure—the message of God’s love and redemption in Jesus Christ:
We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV).
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