Perspectives by Rev. Feras Chamas


The Great Potter

During a pre-marriage counselling session, the councillor showed the couple a picture of a potter-house and asked each one of them to identify with one of the picture’s elements; the picture basically contained three elements: the potter, the wheel and clay. 

After a considerable time of silence…….both of them said: “the wheel”.

Generally, not only in marriage life, we might be too polite to express our deepest wish to be in the place of the potter, but we are defiantly against being the clay.

Conventional Pottery (the act of making pottery wares) has changed very little through the centuries. The wheel is now turned by an electric motor, but that is about everything. Even this is still controlled by the foot of the potter. The clay is the same as it has always been. 

Not long ago, we (human race) were more humble; this picture of the potter sitting behind his wheel forming and creating a useful pot or a beautiful decorative vase was inside the mind and soul of each one of us. 

We saw our life in the hands of The One who is ultimately knowing, able and loving. Before we went to sleep we would put our thoughts and concerns in his palms. As we left our houses in the morning, we asked him for guidance and when fear and sadness hit us we ran to him for help. 

The picture was present in the language we used and in our attitude from everything around us. I believe, not long ago, we lived in the world of the Great Potter.     

But, gradually, something changed; there has been a growing desire in us to be the potter of our own life and everything in it. 

We seemed to love the idea of being able to create something useful and beautiful out of a messy chunk of clay. We wanted to believe that what happens to this clay can happen to anything that comes our way; we are creative, smart, willing and we build something new almost every day, so why not to see ourselves as great potters??      

Since we (the human kind) started to uncover the laws of our world and later to control them we wanted nothing to do with clay; we felt that we’ve been there too long and we’ve paid our dues! 

When we look at all that has been achieved in the fields of science and technology we are more convinced that it was the best thing we’ve ever done when we claimed the seat of the potter. Who needs a great potter when he/she is that good?        

Bear with me this story: in the Bible in Old Testament there is this story about a person whose name is Jeremiah. The people in Jeremiah’s time have, at least, one thing in common with us today; they have lost the concept of the Great Potter from their life. God thought he needed to talk with Jeremiah about that.

The amazing thing in this story is in spite of the fact that potter-houses were at every corner and everybody (including young children) knew exactly what a potter house was and what happened in it, God still asked Jeremiah to go down to one of them. 

He told him: “go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words” (Jer. 18.2). 

Jeremiah could have received the words elsewhere, but God wanted him to be looking at the fingers of the potter holding the clay, his foot turning the wheel and his craftsmanship transforming the idea into reality. 

“I will let you hear my words” meant more than hearing words; it meant helping Jeremiah (in behalf of his people) to rebuild the connection between the picture he once owned in his mind and soul and between God telling him the words: “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” 

This story teaches me that there is hardly any use if I keep telling myself: “I can’t be the potter of my life.” Or “there is no sense of meaning or true purpose when I’m trying to give a shape and use to my days.” I became defensive every time I did this and (to my grief) I worked hard to prove the opposite. 

Instead, I needed to find the picture of the Great Potter in my mind and soul. I needed to build the bridge between that picture and the words: “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”

I wonder, if you saw a picture of a potter-house and were asked to identify with one of the picture’s elements, what would you pick? I hope not the wheel!


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