Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jer 18:6)
It can be weird having a prophet for a mate, but your mate is your mate. My mate Jerry - Jeremiah, to give him his Sabbath name - is always getting all sorts of instructions from God, things to do, things to say, and they don't always make him popular. Lots of people consider him to be a bit strange, but he's still my mate.
The other day I called by to see him and God had just told him to go and visit the potter. He invited me to go along. 'Why not?' I thought. I wondered what was behind this idea, even if it did come from God, allegedly. Was Jerry going to buy a pot or something!
When we got there we just stood and watched. I don't know whether it was because we were watching, but the potter started making a right hash of the jar he was making. It came out all misshapen and spoilt. What a mess! But the potter wasn't worried. He just kept the wheel spinning and got the clay back into a big lump and started again. It didn't take long to transform the misshapen mess into a useful and attractive pot.
Jerry was watching closely, but he also seemed to be praying. I wondered why he had gone to the potter's shop to pray. Surely the temple was a better location for that. Jerry said that God was using the potter's work as a kind of story. The people of the land needed to be like the clay - and it was as though God was working as a potter. The clay needs the potter to mould it nicely and, when it goes wrong, it is vital that the potter starts again. So with us. We need God to get us into shape - and when the shaping doesn't work, and that is usually because of a flaw in the clay that we are, then we need God to whack the clay back into a lump and start again.
It was interesting watching the potter - and I wouldn't have seen any deep meaning without Jerry's commentary. I am glad I called by then because I learned that it is not so bad being like clay. It is not that the clay doesn't have a mind of its own - though it doesn't, of course - but that it is useless and wasted if it is not shaped in the right way.
It is weird having a prophet as a mate, but old Jerry is not such a bad preacher!