Life throws us some curve balls along the way and we don’t always handle them as well as we might like. We make some wrong choices as well that leave us worn, chipped, broken, and more. We feel empty and disappointed with others, with life, but much of the time with us. And then we can project that God feels that way as well, that we have messed up too badly to be able to walk the path He offered us once and offers us still.
But none of this surprised the Lord. He actually planned for it. He knew each of our weaknesses and frailties. He created us after all, and He is the consummate artisan.
Not unlike the sculptor, God had the image of what He would create before it even took shape and form in his hands. He knew the purpose for that which He was creating.
The same enemy that mocked Him, sought to tempt Him to make the wrong choice about the cross, not choose those who would be carrying on for Him after He ascended, and cause Him to doubt would assail those given the mission that we still have today. He had seen it before. He planned to come to earth to show us what we couldn’t see all those centuries before.
God was the Master of imagination and when He created us, He placed some of that quality in each one of us. It can take some of us a long time to discover it or believe it. Too many times voices along the way cause us to doubt or question, to think we have none or that it is not of a quality to have any value. And maybe that is because we have the tendency to compare what we have with others, and that leads us to faulty conclusions more often than not. The enemy whispers along with the human voices and we may make false starts, wrong turns, and faulty choices that result in criticism and condemnation.
And in the midst of all that, the Lord wants us to see with a different lens and discover what we are missing through our own human lens.
“The great masters of the imagination do not make things up out of thin air; they direct our attention to what is right before our eyes. They train us to see it whole – not in fragments but in context, with all the connections. They connect the visible and the invisible, the this with the that. They assist us in seeing what is around us all the time but which we regularly overlook. With their help we see it not as commonplace, but as awesome, not as banal but was wondrous. For this reason the imagination is one of the essential ministries in nurturing the life of faith. For faith is not a leap out of the everyday but a plunge into its depths.”From Run with the Horse by Eugene Peterson
Perhaps that is why what we read so often in Genesis through Revelation is presented in story form with analogies that help us gain a glimpse of what we would miss otherwise. And I think He would have us notice of how often the Lord used it when He was teaching those He would use to point the way.
We see it in bold relief in the stories about Moses confronting pharaoh and leading the Israelites to the land He promised, but if you are looking, you will see it through every page.
It is vivid when God speaks to the prophet, Jeremiah and tells him to go to the potter’s house. He wants him to see clearly the message He will have him deliver to the people and He speaks and shows him what is so much more significant than those of us in our modern world might recognize.
Pottery had changed the world in ways we can miss. Prior to this invention, people had no effective ways to store grain, water, or any other essential. They needed to travel from one place to another as seasons changed in order to be able to sustain themselves. But pottery meant they didn’t need to do that, and communities could be established while still providing ways for the people to carry foodstuffs and water with them through areas where there would not be that provision. Pottery was functional as well as beautiful.
“It is difficult for us to grasp the significance of that combination, for we live in a quite different world. We commonly separate the useful and the beautiful, the necessary and the elegant.”From Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson
Think not? Think again. We carry things in brown paper bags or plastic ones that we toss aside without much thought except for their utility.
Only a Master of imagination would create us from the dust (not unlike a potter) and plan that He would use such common yet wondrous vessels to be what carries light into the darkness of the world, hope into the places of despair, and love into the hatred that would sweep through the sinful hearts and minds of mankind.
When God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house, He gave him a frame of reference that was clear, one that he could easily understand. He had watched the potter at other times. He knew the challenge of vessels that were spoiled or those that resisted his hand to shape them.
So, Jeremiah watched and listened for what the Lord would have him see and see differently when the clay resisted or was spoiled (not unlike those he was being sent to and not unlike us).
“The potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot. God kneads and presses, pushes and pulls. The creative work starts over again, patiently, skillfully. God doesn’t give up. God doesn’t throw away what is spoiled.”From Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson
What a great hope that is for each one of us. He doesn’t give up on us. His creative work of transformation continues. He doesn’t throw us away even if we have been spoiled by our choices or those of others.
Jeremiah 1:5 encourages Jeremiah about the call on his life.
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.”Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)
Those words echo in the words of the psalmist in Psalm 139. God wants to remind us that He saw each one of us and crafted us for his purpose.
We may not be called as a prophet or a great king, but He doesn’t throw us away when we mess up. He has always had a plan for that, from the Garden of Eden till now.