Many years ago on one of our camping trips to the mountains, Keith and I visited a pottery barn, where a potter was busily working at the wheel. We watched him try for several minutes to make a certain type of curve at the lip of the vessel he was making, but every time the lip collapsed. Finally he shook his head and muttered something about the clay having a fault in it. So he changed his plans and made another vessel. It was still a useful pot I am sure, but it did not have that intricate lip that would have made it more beautiful and unique.
Suddenly, I understood a whole lot better all those passages in the Bible about the potter and the clay, and how God can use us without forcing His will on us. God wants us all to be beautiful creations which He can use to accomplish His purpose, but when through our own freewill we rebel, He simply changes His mind and makes us into something else, something not quite as pretty, not quite as special, but usable nonetheless.
We may become so rebellious that we actually think we can keep God from using us, but that is not the case. Some doctrines talk about foreordination in a way that actually limits God. It makes Him need to control everything in order to accomplish his ends. You do realize that notion came from Augustinianism, and Augustine got it from paganism. Remember the doctrine of fatalism from the Greek goddesses called Fates? The scriptures teach instead about a God so powerful that He can use us in spite of the fact that we are able to choose our courses of action. He does not have to control us to bring His plan to fruition. That is truly awesome power.
So make no mistake about it—God will use us, but it is up to us how He will use us. Personally I would rather be a beautiful vase with an intricate, unique design, or even a plain, practical, but necessary and honorable cooking pot, than some sort of “second option.” How would you like to be a spittoon, or maybe a chamber pot? You see, we are all clay in the potter’s hand. It’s only what He makes of us that we have any real choice about.
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth, and some unto honor and some unto dishonor. If anyone therefore purge himself…he shall be a vessel of honor, sanctified, meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work, 2 Tim 2:20,21.