Editor’s note: Today’s devotion comes from the Shaped to Serve devotion book. With 64 pages of Scriptures and devotional thought starters, this book makes a perfect “welcome to the team” gift for any volunteer!

Most pottery workshops have an ample pile of “wasters.” The items that land in this pile have somehow become damaged or deformed, usually during the firing process.

Sometimes pots will fuse to one another or to a shelf in the kiln. Sometimes they crack as they cool. Sometimes they simply don’t meet the potter’s expectations.

One day, at God’s direction, the prophet Jeremiah visited a nearby potter’s workshop. A waster-in-the-making came to the potter’s attention. It was not yet in the kiln. Already on the wheel the potter could see the deficiencies:

The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do (Jeremiah 18:4 ESV).

A half-hearted potter might have fired the vessel anyway, and later thrown it onto the pile of wasters out back. Instead, the potter started over. He reworked the clay, creating a useful vessel. The potter had every right to do this for the clay was his.

As Jeremiah watched, the Lord made that very point. In turn, the prophet later shared this point with the people of Judah. Judgment for their sins would fall, but in time, the Lord would reshape and restore the nation. It would once again become a useful vessel.

Six hundred years later, the Lord did just that. The promised Savior came into the world through the descendants of Judah, God’s rebellious, idolatrous nation.

As we serve today, we may be tempted to think of ourselves as imperfectly shaped, as less than God’s best work:

  • Perhaps we compare ourselves with others who serve God’s people with more grace or ability than we see in our own service.
  • Perhaps those we serve point out our very real flaws and sins, proposing that these things disqualify us.
  • Perhaps we feel we have failed some individual, some family, or even our whole church.
  • Perhaps we’re just tired, tired of being continually reworked, reshaped, retooled by the Potter, tired of serving instead of being served.

When we feel like that, discouraged and ready for the scrap heap like that, the words of another prophet, the prophet Isaiah, bring true comfort:

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8 ESV).

The Lord is the Potter. We are clay. Decisions about how we are being shaped and reshaped are his to make—not ours. (Those decisions are not up to our critics, either! Thank God for that!)

What’s more, our Potter is not some disinterested, half-hearted artisan, hoping to make a quick sale, merchandising us to pay this month’s rent. No! Instead, he is our Father! He cares deeply about us. He is deeply invested in the end result of all the effort he is pouring into our lives—and into the lives of those we serve in his name.

Headed for the scrap heap? Hardly! You are in the process of becoming a work of art. Your Savior’s eternal work of art!


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