(Thursday 12th February 2015)
No one is an island. No one is truly independent. We all have mentors, whether we recognise them or not. We are all shaped by things and people around us, like clay jars in the hands of a potter. The important question is, then, ‘who is our potter?’
Who, or what, is shaping our lives? Or, to make it more personal – who is shaping your life? And, please, let’s not fool ourselves. We really must be honest on this one! Now, I don’t know about you, but, more often than not, the main potter in my life isn’t God.
Instead, I tend to give that responsibility, somewhat unwittingly, to others. God’s word, His leading and His truth in my life is so often forced to take a back seat because I would instead give centre-stage to the opinions of others. God, as a theory, is all well and good. But what really matters to me is what other people think, what other people might say and how I might appear before the court of public opinion. And something tells me I’m not alone in all of this!
This was the topic for last week’s women’s gathering at Bethlehem Bible College. The group, set up to empower and support Palestinian women in the region, runs monthly meetings as well as counselling sessions and a magazine production. The subject this week was particularly poignant for a culture steeped in gossip and the pressures of public opinion (aren’t they all!).
The difference comes, in contrast to constant comparisons with each other, when we realise that true spirituality is not dependent on the opinions of others, but instead on being formed by what God says about us. Our identity isn’t based on daily gossip, but on the unchanging word of God, not on the ideals of the flesh, but on the leading of the Spirit.
When we find our comfort in God, then our joy is no longer dependent on the situations we find ourselves in, and our inner peace does not rely on the peace of others. We have the Prince of Peace not only living in our hearts but also operating as the Master Potter of our life, shaping each contour and apparent bump into a work of art for our benefit and His glory. And this can only happen when we actively surrender our life to God. Even the best potter can only do so much with a stubborn, difficult piece of clay. So for God to work on us, there must also be an element of us staying attuned to His word and will.
You remember that whole island analogy from the beginning? It seems to me that, in a way, we are all potters shaping the lives of those around us – whether we like it or not. But our main tool, really, is the use of our lives to point the other towards the Master Potter in whose hands these ugly lumps of clay (you and I!) can be formed into beautiful work of art, fit for purpose and useful to the Master.
And I guess that that, really, is what this women’s group is all about.