Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 24

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” – Jeremiah 18:4 

My dad was a painter, a hobby he enjoyed off and on his entire life since early childhood.  He was quite good actually, yet few people I suspect knew except for his own inner circle.  Even though Daddy was not an overly private man, for whatever reason he was guarded when it came to his art; not that he hid it, but neither did he talk about it a great deal, certainly in a boastful way, nor was he flamboyant in the ways he displayed it.

It occurred to me recently that in all the years I knew him I never one time observed my dad painting.  I do recall seeing a few of his works-in-progress resting on an easel, but I never saw him with brush in hand.  That was something he seemed to do by himself.  Out of curiosity I did once ask what he did when he made a mistake.  I’ll never forget his quick response.  “Oh, that’s easy,” he said, “you just paint over it.”  The answer slid off his tongue so smoothly, in fact, I suspected he must have done it a million times, and maybe that’s the reason he didn’t want anyone watching.

But isn’t that the story of our lives, all of us?  We make mistake after mistake, blunder after blunder, mess after mess, only to go back and try to clean it up, redo it, start over – paint over it, so to speak – whatever it takes to transform our blunders into something better.  The Book of Jeremiah offers a great illustration when the Lord instructed Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house and observe the potter.  “So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”  Just like my dad’s paint-overs!

God does that with us, too, doesn’t he?  Sometimes we don’t turn out right – our fault, not His – and God will put us back on the wheel and reshape us as seems best for him.  Or he paints over our mistakes and blunders giving us a fresh start.  It’s called grace.  I sometimes wonder if that is the real reason my dad was so private about his painting, they were his moments with God when he was able to make mistakes and paint over them, and God was able to paint over the mistakes with him.  It was a place where they worked things out, shaping them as seemed best.  Don’t we all need that private time?

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