“Indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour?’” Romans 9:20, 21
As we read through the Bible we read of many father – son relationships and wonder why they turned out the way they did. It started in the Garden of Eden with Cain and Abel. Both sons had the same parents and virtually the same environment yet one heeded the word of God through his father and the other did not. Quite often there are indicators as to why sons turned out the way they did but frequently there is no observable reason.
Isaiah writes, “We are the clay, and You our potter; and we are the work of Your hand” (64:8). The Lord spoke to Israel through Jeremiah saying, “as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand” (18:6). Paul wrote that any complaint on our part is as clay complaining about the potter. That is quite absurd. That I should be a vessel in His house is grace enough but that He should also add His beauty is beyond comprehension without gazing at the cross of Jesus.
In our household we have many vessels although these days few are made of clay. There are vessels in my shed that contain used screws, bolts and other reusable things that I may need one day. They have no value until needed. The container itself is not pretty. It is just to contain used, dirty and sometimes rusty items year after year. Even so, the vessel is necessary even if not a visual delight.
In the house and on display we do have items that have no useful function except to be admired for their looks. They have been made for that purpose and even if something was placed in them that would not change their purpose.
The more common containers in our house have useful purposes as well as sometimes being reasonably pleasing to the eye. Sometimes the beauty comes from the occasion in which it was purchased or because it was a love gift from someone special. On other occasions the maker’s palette has added beauty to what would otherwise be a plain item.
Speaking spiritually, there are times that I feel like one of these items. There are times I feel like the ugly container on the back shelf holding the rusting screws that may never be used. On other occasions I feel more like the coffee mug that is used quite often but not of great value or beauty.
However, there are times that I feel treasured. I am made of ordinary clay of the earth that has little value or beauty in itself but God in grace has chosen to take out His palette and paint me into a thing of beauty that is treasured by my children and grandchildren. Had the Lord not intervened in my life when He did the picture I was painting on this clay vessel would have been quite different.
In His wonderful grace through Jesus Christ, God has given me a beautiful wife who loves me, two children and their spouses who love us and through them He has given us five grandchildren who delight in our company. This is the Father’s palette of grace. I am but the clay who watches in awe as the Potter skilfully applies from His palette the beauty of His grace as He chooses for His own glory.