Remade, Not Repaired

The Power of Christ in Transforming Lives

Scripture tells us that the devil is a liar. One lie he tells is that we can sin and get away with it. Perhaps a worse lie is that once we do sin, God doesn’t want us back. Even after Christians repent and return to fellowship with God, the devil tries to make them think that they are now second-class citizens. But God doesn’t have any second-class citizens. He has children. Children in fellowship or children out of fellowship, but still children. Jeremiah 18:1–10 shows us that broken people can be remade and reminds remade people that they are not broken anymore.

Notice the material. The potter made a vessel out of clay. This was a plain material. These vessels were not of blown glass or cut stone; they were just made of ordinary clay. Isn’t it amazing what God can make from dirt? He made man out of the dust of the ground. The Psalmist reminds us, “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). What a marvelous reminder in this story that God can use common people from common places.

The material was also placed. It was on the wheel and in the hands of the Potter. No permanent trouble can come to the child of God who stays in the Potter’s hands. But this material was also pliable. Clay is moldable, malleable, and moveable. You can make something with it. God is looking for pliable people. We should ask ourselves often how hard it is for God to change something in our lives.

Not long into our story, we see the marring of the vessel the potter was making. How common it is for us creatures of clay to mess up! I know a man who was saved in jail, reading a New Testament by holding it through the bars of his cell so that a security light would shine on it after lights-out. He came to the story of the thief on the cross saying, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

“That guy’s got a lot of guts,” he thought. “Jesus isn’t going to accept him. He’s a thief, just like me.” He read on to discover that, in fact, Jesus did receive the thief! The prisoner then prayed this heartfelt prayer, “Lord, you took that thief. Will you take this one?” Upon his release from prison, he went to Bible college, started a church in Alaska and then one in Michigan. He was hard-working, compassionate, and used of God. But he messed up.

He told the story this way: “My wife told me to leave the house once too often. So I did. But I took somebody with me and broke up another home as well.” The church dissolved, his ministry ended, his life was a wreck. And yet, he was still in the hand of the Potter. He divorced his wife and remarried. For nineteen years he was out of church. He described his life as bitter, empty, and dried up. But the Potter wasn’t through.

After the marring there was a makeover. Now, please note, this is not a mending but a makeover. The Potter did not apply Elmer’s glue and stick the broken piece back on the vessel. No, this was to be another vessel; a fresh start; a renewed opportunity. A woman may mend a pair of trousers and, though the hole is gone, the patch will remain visible. God’s not in the mending business; He’s in the making over business.

Of course, our text clearly tells us that it was up to the Potter what vessel He chose to make the second time. He made another vessel “as it seemed good to the potter to make it” (v. 4). How many people could have been remade but they would not let the Potter have His way? God does give us a choice. We can allow Him to remake us, or we can stay broken.

Oh, by the way, that man said to me later after having told his story, “Would you let us join your church?”

“Of course,” I replied. “The church is a spiritual hospital. We don’t send sick people away. We try to help them get better.” He not only joined, he became one of the finest members First Baptist Church of Bridgeport has ever known. He was a grandfather to the children, an extremely faithful soulwinner, and a model of the Christian life. His story was published because he made it so. He chose to tell his testimony, to be an example of what not to do, and to be an example of God’s grace in remaking broken people. God is looking for an opportunity to restore the fellowship and renew the usefulness of His broken children. I find it especially intriguing that in verses 7–9, He says, “At what instant…If that nation…turn from their evil, I will repent….”

Years ago, a man in a prison service sang the song “The Bird with the Broken Pinion”:

I walked in the woodland meadows,
Where sweet the thrushes sing,
And found on a bed of mosses,
A bird with a broken wing;
I healed its wing, and each morning
It sang its old sweet strain,
But the bird with the broken pinion,
Never soared as high again.

I found a young life broken
By sin’s seductive art,
And, touched with a Christlike pity,
I took him to my heart;
He lived with a nobler purpose,
And struggled not in vain,
But the life that sin had stricken,
Never soared as high again.

But the bird with the broken pinion
Kept another from the snare,
The life that sin had stricken,
Raised another from despair;
Each loss has its own compensation,
There’s healing for each pain,
But the bird with the broken pinion
Never soared as high again.

The song had been carelessly, perhaps even thoughtlessly, chosen. When the singer, Peter Bilhorn, finished, a prisoner said, “If what you have sung is true, there is no hope for me nor for any man in this room.” Bilhorn went home and added a fourth stanza. When you find the poem in print, you usually find not only the first three stanzas by Hezekiah Butterworth, but the last and most important verse by Peter Bilhorn, which says:

But the soul that comes to Jesus
Is saved from every sin.
And the heart that fully trusts Him
Shall a crown of glory win.
Then come to the dear Redeemer,
He’ll cleanse your every stain
By the grace He freely gives you,
You shall soar higher again.

Isn’t it wonderful that we serve a God who does not repair us, but instead remakes us?

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