This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
image: A black and white image of a person’s hands as they mold clay into the form of a vase
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”
So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?
-Jeremiah 18:1-5 NIV
A friend of mine took a trip to Japan several years ago. She had a wonderful time there and really enjoyed the experience. As she was at the airport preparing to leave, she realized that she wanted to take a souvenir with her so she could remember the trip. In a small shop at the airport she saw all types, of souvenirs, including a vast variety of teacups.
She and I both enjoy a good cup of tea, so she stopped to take a closer look. Upon closer inspection, she realized that some of the teacups cost more than others; however, she was surprised to see that the teacups with some kind of crack or other imperfection were much more expensive than the perfect mass-produced teacups. Furthermore, the imperfections in the flawed tea cups were highlighted with gold paint.
When my friend asked the shopkeeper about why these cracked teacups were so expensive, she replied, “These teacups are wabi sabi. Each one has an imperfection. Each one was made by hand and is a work of art.”
My friend had never heard of this phrase before. “What is wabi sabi?” she asked.
“Wabi sabi is an Eastern concept,” said the shopkeeper. “It means beauty in imperfection.” She then continued to explain to my friend that each handmade teacup was different. That is why they were special works of art. No two were alike. The cracks were highlighted with gold because each crack was part of what helped to make each teacup unique. By comparison, the other teacups were cheaper because they were mass produced. Each one was the same.
In the Potter’s Hands
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that the Word of the Lord came to him and told him to go to the potter’s house and watch the potter work (Jeremiah 18:1). Jeremiah obeys and he experiences a revelation about God as he watches the potter working at the potter’s wheel and shaping the clay. ”So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”
Our lives are like wabi sabi teacups. No matter how hard we try, we can never live a completely perfect and blameless life. We will all make mistakes. We will all experience cracks and bruises. However, if we give our lives to God, our God can form them into beautiful pieces of art.
Fired in the Kiln
If you’ve ever worked with clay, you know that clay must be heated in order to cause it to harden. That is why people who make ceramics use a kiln to fire the clay. According to Goshen College, modern kilns can get as hot as 1,800F- 2,400F.
As Christians, we cannot stop at just giving our lives over to God. In Luke, Christ tells the gathered crowds, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).” Christ then continues his sermon and talks about the steep price of discipleship (Luke 14:28-33).
Jesus makes it clear that the price of following Christ is very high. It will cost us our entire lives. Giving our hearts to Christ is like being fired in the kiln. We will be forever changed and made into an entirely new person. Everything about us, from our actions, our relationships, to the way we view the world, will be changed when we accept Christ into our hearts and begin to follow Jesus.
God the Great Artist
This week, I am inspired by the fact that God is an artist and a Great Creator. In Genesis at the very beginning, we see God as sculptor who forms mankind in God’s image, an artist who paints the sunset, and a poet who speaks the world into being.
No one escapes from this life unscathed. We will all end up with a few cracks, bumps, and bruises. Yet our God is the God of the resurrection. God is capable of taking our broken lives and making a beautiful piece of art. When we decided to follow God, we are forever changed. Like a piece of pottery that has been fired in a kiln, we become reborn as something entirely new. When we pay the cost and follow Christ, we will never be the same.
Until Next Week,
Right now I’m reading Homer’s Odyssey. I’m so excited about this new translation because it is the first translation of The Odyssey into English that was ever done by a woman. Emily Watson does an excellent job and I highly recommend it.
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!