Leaning into the Potter’s Hand
I made a Lego creature the other day. I used to play with Legos as a child and never really grew out of it. Now I buy the sets for my son, and end up playing with them more than he does. I don’t think that’s all that uncommon, right?
After I made it, I looked it over for a few minutes, enjoying what I had made. Then I destroyed it.
No one complained. The creature didn’t cry out as I dismantled it, “Who are you to destroy me!” I simply wanted to put the pieces back in the box to make something else. I own the legos, I made the creature, I get to decide what to do with it.
In fact, every piece that made up my creation was there because I chose it.
Genesis 1 and 2 makes an important, and often overlooked, point. God is our creator, and we are his creatures. We are animate, thinking, reasoning, willing, living, breathing creatures of course, but we are creatures nonetheless. And God is our Creator. God is not flippant with us, as I was with the toy I made, but the metaphor is still a good one.
But the metaphor is also unsettling, isn’t it?
In the words of Genesis 2, God formed us out of the dust of the earth and breathed his breath of life into us. He is the potter, and we are the clay.
We are neither self-generated, nor do we exist by chance. We have all been created straight from the mind of God who also made all things, sustains all things, and rules all things.
Purpose & Intention
The Creator God who brought us into existence is a rational, purposeful, being with an intention and a will. He has not made you for no reason. Everything He does has an intention and a purpose. He wastes nothing. There is not one piece of you that He did not intend.
God made the universe, and the earth. He then filled that earth with creatures, culminated on the creation of humanity. And he gives that humanity a specific purpose: to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it – to have dominion over all the other creatures and living things that He has made.
God’s status as Creator means that He also rules over his creation with absolute authority. This means that everything he intends to do with his creation, he will do. The creation cannot stop him.
The Lego creature doesn’t say to the builder, “you can’t do that.” The clay doesn’t not tell the potter for what purpose it was made.
Unlike my Lego creature, which is held together by the laws of physics, God holds his creation together. He is continually, consistently, intimately, involved in his creation. He didn’t wind up the universe like a clock and leave it to run. God will do what he will do, and he is right to do it – no matter what it is.
1- The first and most obvious: we should worship and thank God that he is God and we are not. Part of what worship is, is the simple confession (acknowledgement) that we are dependent on him for everything, from our first breath to our very existence on into eternity.
2- God not only determines THAT we exist, but WHY we exist. The purpose of this class is to discover the right course of our lives, and whether or not we are on it at the moment. The most important aspect of that investigation is to understand and CELEBRATE the fact that we do not get to write our own mission statement. We are not autonomous beings. Our reason for being is neither self-derived or self-determined.
Our purpose comes from OUTSIDE OF US, from the One that created us. The quest for us, then, is to discover HIS intention, His desire, HIS dream for our lives.
We Hate This
Before we move on to those ideas, we need to wrestle with God over our heart-level resistance to this truth.
There is a part of us that hates this truth. The very idea that our lives do not belong to us, that we do not determine our own values and desires, that our lives are not self-determined, or at least self-derived, is hard to swallow. “Why can’t it just be about love, man?” Well, it is all about love. But love as defined by God which cannot be separated from obedience. It’s love on God’s terms. It’s love determined by Perfect Love.
Our culture, with all of its Disney-fication, rails against this. They tell us to find ourselves, chase our dreams, let our hearts be our guide. They tell us that what satisfies the soul is giving the soul all that it desires, and all that it can dream. Chase the moon, reach for the stars. Happiness, soul-satisfaction, meaning, and purpose are found within. You decide who you are, and what you are about.
But we know this is not only misguided, but it is anti-Christian at its very core. Adam and Eve’s first sin was the sin of self-determination. Not much has changed.
The hard thing to get at is the duality between our thinking and our motivation. As Christians, we know that this is true: God is our creator. But we underestimate the stubborn belief that we hold that desperately believes in self-determination. Much of what we label as “faith” is quite often nothing more than us digging in our heels to see our own self-determined, self-derived dreams come true.
The evidence for this is found in how little thanks we give to God our creator for everything he gives us, as well as in how rarely we pause to consider his will and purpose and intention for our lives as we make decisions.
Simplistically, the answer is to repent. But I would define true repentance as something more than contrite regret. It’s turning from the lie, from the false promise and the false god, and beholding Christ. We look on Perfect Love and are then compelled to love him with our obedience.
Joy in our submission to our Creator is the result. The clay no longer bristles at the hand of the potter, but leans into it with gladness.
An element of God’s creation that perhaps makes man unique is not only the sovereignty of his creator but the fact that He created men not as a bunch of independent individuals but as a dependent body each providing a function and each connected to the others. We are not clones of one another but unique and dependent parts of a greater whole each designed for a specific function.. The course of our lives, then, becomes ever more dependent on what our unique purpose is in that body.
Great point! Our purpose is going to be discovered, and confirmed, in our connection to the Body.