If we measured today’s climate, we would conclude that we live in a society common to excuses. Many have embraced the effectiveness of excuses to protect themselves from allegation of failure and avoidance of responsibility. An excuse is just a way of deflecting blame away from oneself, but the long-term affect is denying oneself the opportunity to learn and grow from mistakes. Subsequently, excuse-makers are often viewed as manipulative, unreliable, bad time keepers, lacking skill and knowledge, blame shifters, and so much more. And though many find comfort in excuses, God is calling His people to elevate above excuses to a posture of fervent pursuit of what we are predestined to accomplish.
The prophet Jeremiah is often referred to as “The Weeping Prophet” due to the way in which he responded to life’s difficulties. He had many opportunities to exercise an excuse and took advantage of each one. More so, he had every excuse ready when God called him to be a prophet:the task to demanding and dangerous, I have inadequate talent, the timing is bad, etc. In one specific example, he writes of an encounter with the Lord, where he recounts hearing“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words” (Jer. 18:2).
Like Jeremiah, it is completely normal for us to plan out every facet of our life; where we are going to college, where we will work, who we will be in a relationship with, what organization we will commit to, what church we will attend — yet we opt to make all sorts of excuses not to obey God’s voice.It’s the preacher’s job; it’s not my gift; I’ve already served;I’m too busy… too tired… too old… or too young.Ben Franklin wrote, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”We ultimately miss God by trying to fit Him into the scope of our comfort, our timetable, our mental capacity, our physical limitations, or our strategic systems. But God’s plan for us is far greater than anything we can imagine.
We live in a physical world with four known space-time dimensions of length, width, height/depth and time. Yet the God of the Bible dwells in a different dimension; the spirit realm. His eternity is easily differentiated from the temporal nature of man, as our lives are short and frail but His does not weaken or fail with the progression of time. In other words, God operates in a dimension that is not constrained by time. He is timeless, and His power reaches beyond the natural perception of our physical senses. And because He knows the end from the beginning of everything, if we trust that He is working things out for our good, then we don’t have to be overly concerned with the details in between our start and finish. Our focus should be solely on our finish and not the process to it.
God has ways, times and places in which He speaks. Therefore, we must go where God instructs us to get the word He has for us. So, church hopers be warned, by going from place to place looking for God to do something more miraculous in your next situation, you can take yourself out of position from where your word is intended to meet you. Some of us have waited and prayed for too long to ultimately be out of position when God comes through. God sent Jeremiah, you and I down to His house to hear a word, therefore we must not stray to another house to get another opinion. We must follow instruction, go to the potter’s house and there we will confront a faithful God’s word.
God sends Jeremiah down to the potter’s house to hear words of instruction regarding his predestined finish. There he sees that “clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:4). It was a vessel on the wheel being processed and while in the potter’s hands being molded… being fashioned… being prepared… the clay gets marred. The reality is that no matter if public opinion is not in concert with the potter, only the potter knows the quality of workmanship he wants to unveil. Therefore only he can determine what is marred or damaged. This observation provoked Jeremiah to see himself in God’s hands, as His possession and masterpiece, which meant only God knew what his final product was intended to be. Jeremiah wasn’t permanently marred nor without hope, rather he was in process toward perfection.
Process is not always easy, but the Lord comforts us in His response in Jeremiah 18:6 saying, “Cannot I do with you as this potter?… as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
Three points stand out in the parable of the potter: once made, once marred and then made again.
A once made Christian is as God intended, “man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26-27). There was an infinite plan and purpose to create a creature with whom God could commune and fellowship but due to the reign and curse of sin,every person is born in sin and sharpened in iniquity (marred at birth) and found a product of sin’s devastation.Psalm 51 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”Even after Christ, we tend to struggle maintaining the newness and wholesomeness of our salvation experience, but if we release ourselves to the full will of God, as Jeremiah discovered, the potter doesn’t just mend the vessel rather“He made it again into another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make.”The Christian is made again… For salvation is not a patching up of the old man; “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Let us all embrace the challenge and get on the wheel –NO MORE EXCUSES — so Christ can finish the work He started in us. We must pursue God diligently; a fervent pursuit of purpose and destiny. God’s knowledge and presence must be our constant focus.Faith is about blindly believing. So instead of focusing on the plan, simply pray for guidance and the all-knowing, all-powerful God will give us success. Though we may stumble, it only makes us stronger and shapes us into a stronger Christian.