Keep Your Hand to the Clay–Jeremiah 18:3-4

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.  And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.–Jeremiah 18:3-4

potterEvery semester, as I calculate final grades, I encounter a handful of students who receive a grade that’s either lower than what they should have earned or an actual “F.” Occasionally a college student will fail because of a lack of ability, but far more often, those F’s (and the underperforming B’s, C’s, and D’s) come for a simple reason: the student simply did not do the work. Sometimes that lack of effort is shown in the grade book by a zero; other times, it will be camouflaged with a real grade that simply should have been higher. Just last week, I had a student who should have easily received a B but who scuttled his chances by knocking together a “research” paper that involved precious little research and even less thought.

The problem with a student like this is that he probably exchanged the time he should have spent studying and writing for time watching The Walking Dead or playing Minecraft. In short, if had had gone down to this student’s house, he wouldn’t have been studying. It would have been like Jeremiah  going to the potter’s house to find him not making pottery.

Just so I don’t sound too prideful, let me be clear. Most of my failures come from when I am not at whatever pottery wheel I should be tending. When my teaching is less than it should be or my writing assignments don’t get done on time, it’s not a lack of ability. Instead, I just haven’t had my hand on the clay enough.

Jeremiah’s potter was found at work, and the potter whom he represented, God, is also found always at work. Since His redeeming work is always going on, since He is always faithful to provide and protect and guide, shouldn’t we respond with the same measure of diligence? Can we honestly offer any less than to keep our hands on our clay?


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