Potter working with clayWho controls your life?  You or God?  It’s actually a critical question for all of us to answer if we want to live out our brief time here on earth with purpose and eternal joy.

When I think of how I answer this important question (and believe me, I sometimes struggle with it), the image that comes to mind is that of a potter. This takes me back to the days in high school when I had the opportunity to work with clay. I only vaguely remember the details, but it’s probably because I didn’t even come close to mastering the art of working with clay. Indeed, there is a lot of skill and patience behind making a beautiful vessel, something I did not come close to conquering. For sure, I failed to become a good potter!

In the days of the Bible, being a potter was a skilled profession. In fact, being a potter was quite a common occupation. Given the amount of broken pottery that is found at archaeological sites in Israel, there was never a shortage of pottery. For example, this past June while excavating at Tel Gezer, we filled many buckets with fragments of pottery just from one small square. Truth is, bowls, jugs, oil lamps, and cooking ware had to be made constantly to meet the needs of the average family. In other words, if you were a potter, you were one who enjoyed a high level of job security. 

Canaanite potteryMost pieces of pottery was done on a potter’s wheel. Once the vessel was shaped and molded, it was then fired. In fact, when you pick up a piece of pottery at any given Old Testament site, you can typically tell how long that piece of pottery was fired. The indicator is the width of the blackened portion in the middle of the piece of pottery. The middle part of a thicker piece pottery generally is wider than a thinner piece.  Additionally, the outside details on any piece of pottery is an indicator of the skill of the potter. Certain pottery was glazed and colored. Other times a potter would put pinch a fancy border on the vessel he was working with, giving it a personal touch, if you will.

Let’s go back to the initial question now – Who controls your life?  If we answer “me” (like we all do in certain moments or days of our lives), most likely we will then miss the opportunities to be shaped by God, like a piece of clay in the potter’s hand. For sure, God wants to shape us by His grace and love so that we reflect Him to others. However, if we answer the question – Who controls your life? – with “God,” then we are living moment by moment as a beautiful vessel fulfilling God’s purpose.  God gives us the opportunity to live as His masterpiece if we allow Him to mold and shape us.  I like what Max Lucado said about being shaped by God’s grace, “God’s grace ― his rumbling, tumbling reservoir of strength and protection ― is at work. Grace is still molding you and forming you. Strengthening you and emboldening you. Shaking you and shaping you. You are God’s masterpiece in the making. So let’s let grace do its work.” (in Shaped by Grace)

A primary ministry theme of Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours is pretty straightforward – “transforming lives.”  The ultimate goal of our ministry is not simply to lead tours to Israel, see where it all happened, read Scriptures on site, consider the life of Christ, and come back home and say “that was a great trip!”   It’s not even just about teaching information about the context of the Bible. Rather it is about spiritual formation. It’s about encouraging people to take that next step in allowing God to shape and mold them like a potter does a piece of clay. It’s about getting excited about God’s Word that has a way of transforming us (2 Timothy 3:16). The ministry is based on Isaiah 64:7 that reminds us that God is the potter and we are the clay!

But apart from this ministry, on an individual level this is how God invites all of us to live out our lives… as a piece of clay in the Master’s hands!  I know, somedays we don’t feel to moldable, do we?  Other days, we would rather for God to leave us alone a little. But God’s intent as a potter is to simply shape us into something beautiful and useable for Him!

Enjoy this brief video piece entitled The Potter. It is a video brought by Sourceflix

The Potter from SourceFlix.com on Vimeo.

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