Five months go I stopped writing blogs. I was at a crossroad in life and trying to determine where to invest my time and gifts as I inch toward the big four-decade era.
Today, I feel strongly led to break the silence and share an update.
Mary and I are both doing quite well and are enjoying living so close to one of our sons and four grandchildren. We are also grateful for our church family at Pleasant Home Community Church where I have led a small group and have been teaching a class that I call “Trekking through The Older Testament.” Using the teaching gift that God has given has affirmed that my journey is not finished and that God has a purpose for these latter years of life.
Last Sunday I preached from Jeremiah 18-20. Yes, we covered three chapters!
Twice, God sent Jeremiah to visit the potter’s house to prepare messages that Jeremiah would deliver to the people in Jerusalem that were facing the imminent invasion from Babylon. The potter and clay motif is presented several times throughout Scripture, including twice in each Isaiah and Jeremiah as well as in Romans 9. The emphasis is always on God’s sovereignty.
Jeremiah’s first visit to the potter’s house was to receive a message that God, the potter, could do as He chose with rebellious Judah because of her love affair with idolatry.
The second visit to the Potter’s house was to purchase a clay flask to illustrate the message that God would use Babylon to shatter Judah and carry her into exile.
But, the reason I chose to consider three chapters from Jeremiah was to share Jeremiah’s emotional responses when Judah ignored God’s warnings and turned against the prophet with slander and physical abuse. Jeremiah felt like he was on the potter’s wheel and ricocheted between righteous anger and depression. Between psalms of lament and cursing psalms calling down severe judgment upon his critics. Between praise and a pit so deep that he laments the day he was born.
Life is good. Most of the time. But, there are times when we are blindsided with circumstances that threaten, like ocean breakers, to yank us off our feet and drag us like a riptide into uncertain waters. Suddenly we feel like God has thrust us onto the potter’s wheel as life spins out of control.
We begin to ricochet between confident faith in what we say we believe about God and questioning if God even cares or is aware of our circumstances. Our theology is put to the test. Faith is stretched to the breaking point.
These emotional responses and the struggle with faith in the midst of feelings of abandonment and fear was my focus from the story of Jeremiah’s experiences.
What are some lessons we can learn from the potter’s wheel? From His hands pressing severely?
Are there any answers when we cry, “Why? Why me? Why now?”
Sometimes these painful experiences are the result of poor choices. That was the case when scaffolding collapsed 38 years ago changing my life forever.
Sometimes we suffer because of choices and actions of other people. Bad people. That was the case when my seven-year-old brother, Danny, was killed.
Sometimes, God, the Great Potter uses adversity like a potter’s hands firmly pressing the clay to conform and shape us into the image of His Son, the most kind, gracious and loving person that ever breathed.
In last Sunday’s message I tried to share some of my experiences and lessons learned when I was on the potter’s wheel lying on my back six weeks in the hospital with casts on both legs, one arm and a full body cast. It would be six months before I would preach again, but this time from a wheelchair.
If you are interested in hearing my story and lessons that I learned while on the potter’s wheel, please visit the following site: www.phccgresham.org
Thank you for letting me share. I welcome your feedback.