At the Potter’s House

By Nancy J. Unks

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message’” Jeremiah 18:3.

I like to play in mud. Maybe it started in childhood when I spent summer days with my little brother building roads and villages in the dirt under the back steps. Today, I retreat to the basement to build pottery from clay, which is just grown-up, refined mud. Alone in my studio, away from distractions, I have time to think, to meditate, to pray.

God seems close when my hands are busy. I talk to him. It’s prayer in its simplest form, a conversation with God. My mind wanders—no, travels—from my needs and wants to people I care about, each one reminding me of others. I marvel at how God keeps the needs of all of us in his mind at once. That leads me to worship his all-seeing, all-knowing, yet intimately loving presence—his Holy Spirit—who is not only with me in my lonely basement, but also with my newly widowed friend in her grief, with children and teachers in Kenya facing hunger and the pandemic, and with scores of people caught in natural disasters. The Lord is shaping and re-focusing my heart as I create and pray.

But when the Lord sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to receive a message for the people, he wasn’t sending him to a solitary artist for personal inspiration. The potters of Jeremiah’s day were essential businesses. They were factories for the Corning Ware, the Fiesta Ware, the Tupperware of the time. Without them, people could not cook, eat or drink because they had no containers for food and water. The message God gave Jeremiah was for the World in a challenging age, especially for God’s people who know and worship the Lord.

The message: God is the creator, shaping and re-shaping not only individuals, but countries. He’s calling all of us to give up idols and turn to him, to love and honor God above all, and to love each other.

It was the message of prophets from the time of Moses. “This day . . . I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life . . .” Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

It is the message of Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.

If we heed God’s call, we find life! Eternal life! It’s his promise. If we don’t, we find destruction. That’s something to meditate on while our hands are busy creating or washing dishes or cutting grass or . . .