Clarity in the Clay

By Myra Dempsey

"Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'? Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' or to a woman, 'With what are you in labor?' Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: 'Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I command all their host. I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,' says the LORD of hosts."  - Isaiah 45:9-13

These kind of passages crash violently into all of my preconceived notions and false senses of control! And through the ringing whiplash, God, in his mercy, stirs repentance and worship. How easily my pride creeps in and begins to question the God of the universe. The word "strive" in verse 9 is the Hebrew word riyb- to contend, to conduct a case or suit, to make complaint or quarrel. I all-too-often make a case against God's sovereignty in my life, with my own comfort and "rights" as the chief witnesses for the prosecution.

How often do we fail to fully surrender to the Lord, holding on to some sense that He "just wouldn't do" certain things? A few verses earlier in the same chapter, God brings further, challenging clarity, by saying, "I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things." (vv. 6b-7)

"Whoa, wait a minute. I thought that God was only love. I thought He wanted us to be happy. I didn't sign up for a life that follows a God who would create darkness or calamity. I just can't accept that he would create Hell, or allow people to go there. That's just not how I believe God operates."  JUDGE. JURY. SENTENCE.

We sit in judgement over God and his Word, rather than submitting ourselves under it. We trust our own intellect and reason more than Him, the Giver of that very intellect! We perform interpretive gymnastics to make sure the text fits our own lifestyle, not the other way around. We forget what life is really about and instead make it about us... our comfort, our ability to understand everything, our desire to control. Life is not about us. It is about God and His glory!

The truth is that we all are rebellious against our Great King and rightly deserve the penalty for that rebellion- death. But in His great mercy for us and sovereign campaign for his own renown, God rescues! 

"I am the LORD, and there is no other, beside me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other." (vv. 5-6)

God is love (1 John 4:8), and he does give us joy (Romans 15:13) but it comes in a much different way than our culture and far too many churches teach. It's not found in health, wealth and prosperity. Deep, unshakable peace and joy come when we embrace our rightful identity and position. We are the pot! God is the potter. This eradicates any place for pride. He is good and we not only can trust him, but we have no other recourse. Embrace the freedom that is found in full surrender, dear brothers and sisters! Let us repent from our foolish attempts to contend with God, and rejoice in his Lordship over us! He does redeem! Praise His name!

"Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel." (Is 44:23)

Let us be a people who humbly enjoy our Potter, and rejoice in his sovereignty over us!