"Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message" (Jeremiah 18:2, NIV).
It's hard to imagine God with dirty hands, but that is the image that Jeremiah asks us to consider, or rather, that God asked Jeremiah to consider, when He sent him down to the potter's house. Watching the craftsman labor over the lump of clay, Jeremiah would be offered an object lesson that still speaks to us today. The vessel being fashioned was "marred in his hands" (v. 4), so that all of his pervious effort was lost. Rather than discard the obstinate clay and begin afresh with a new lump, the potter reworked the clay until it became another vessel, "shaping it as seemed best to him."
I've been there, and maybe you have too.
It seems that all too often we take two steps forward, and three steps back. We are like the clay on the potter's wheel, refusing to give in to the gentle pressure of the Master Craftsman, trying somehow to shape ourselves rather than allow Him to do what He does best. But God doesn't give up on us. Like the potter, He rolls up His sleeves and presses in again, getting right in the middle of our mess and making something beautiful.
There's a human temptation to push God away in the very times we need Him most, right in the midst of our brokenness, our bruises, and our mess. But that is the time when we need to yield to His gentle but steady hand, and allow Him to shape us according to His own good pleasure. He really does know what's best for us, and He is not afraid to get His hands dirty. Perhaps you've been marred (even in the hand of the Potter, no less!), but I promise you, He's not done with you. As He told Israel through the prophet, He is able to do with you just as the potter does with the clay. Entrust yourself to His dirty, but capable hands.
Scripture for reflection and prayer:
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:13-14, NIV).