The Potter’s House by T. Austin-Sparks
I wrote back in December a post called Arise, Get Up and Go to the Potter’s House. Like I said in my post, I love this story found in Jeremiah, and when I read T. Austin Sparks’ view of this parable, I wanted to share his perspective with whoever reads it here, as it encouraged me greatly and I think it will encourage you, too.
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he wrought his work on the wheels. And when the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” (Jeremiah 18:1-4)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)As we read this so well-known illustration of God’s workmanship seen in the house of the potter, to which the prophet was told to go, there are three possible effects that it can have upon us, depending upon which word we underline, where we stop, where we put the emphasis. There are three words which sum up this paragraph, and which of those words we choose and resolve into the message will decide a very great thing for us. It may affect our whole life.
*Three Possibilities *
There is the word ‘marred‘. “The vessel that he made… was marred in the hand of the potter“. If we make that the word, then something of a spirit of hopelessness will come over us. We shall begin to find an inward sinking; we shall begin to say, ‘Yes, I made a mess of things, I spoiled it all. There is not much hope for me—my life is marred, spoiled.’ If you take that word and make it the message, it will have one effect upon your life. Thank God, that is not the message; but there may be someone reading who has got there. Looking back on your life, you do so with very little gratification or pleasure; rather with regret, perhaps remorse. Maybe you fall into this mood, if you think of yourself as the clay. You feel there has been a breakdown; you have perhaps made a mess of things, or you have not fulfilled all the promise, all the possibilities. And that sense of failure, of lost opportunity, and much more in that direction, creates a shadow over your life. It makes you feel, ‘Well, that is that. Now it is up to me to try and get through in some way and finish up as decently as I can.’ That is a despairing outlook on life, and that will most surely be the result of putting your circle round this word, variously translated ‘marred‘ or ‘spoiled‘.
There is another word here: “he made it again ‘another‘ vessel“. If we put our line under that word and make it the message, that, too, will open the door to gloomy thoughts and considerations. We shall at once begin to say, ‘Well, God has not been able to fulfill His original intentions where I am concerned. I have to be content with being His second-best; something other, something different, something that He really did not mean me to be. He is making the most and the best of a bad job. He is just working with me on an alternative line. So—well, that reduces me to being something of a misfit, not what I was intended to be.’ You see the possibilities of putting your circle round that word ‘another’ vessel.
But then there is another phrase here: “as seemed ‘good‘ to the potter to make it.” That introduces an altogether new possibility. If, after all, it is possible for Him to say, ‘It is good, My work is good’; to find His own pleasure and His own satisfaction in it, that will certainly be far better and greater and higher than my greatest satisfaction could possibly be. His standard is so much higher than my best. If He can say, ‘It is good’, that surely opens up a new outlook and prospect, does it not? That introduces the triumph of His grace, in spite of everything. In spite of what we are and of all our failure and of all His difficulty with us, His grace triumphs. His wisdom triumphs over all the problems in us—yes, over all the setback that He may have encountered in us; His love overcomes all the difficulties that He has with us. If the end is that it is good in His sight—“as seemed good“—I say, that brings into view an altogether new situation.
These are the three possibilities that arise out of these words. We choose the third. That is the message that I want to bring to you.
Thank you T. Austin Sparks for this beautiful message of encouragement and hope. “In spite of what we are and of all our failure and of all His difficulty with us, His grace triumphs!” I love this!