Mr. Big Deal
Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? Romans 9:20-21
I grew up wrestling in smalltown, South Dakota, where I did pretty well, winning most of my matches and placing in the state tournament my senior year. As I went off to wrestle in college, I thought I was kind of a big deal and was quite confident that my college wrestling career would continue on the same trajectory. I was mistaken. In college, reality set in as I discovered that I was not a big wrestling deal. I was, in fact, well below average.
That hurt a little – to discover my actual place in the big world. It was reality though, and it would have done me no good to deny it. In fact, it would have been absurd – and a little embarrassing – to continue to insist that I was Mr. Big Deal, always looking back to my high school days.
Today’s passage is one of those moments we might find painful, as we come to understand our place in the universe. In the passage, Paul described God’s sovereign right to pour out his mercy and wrath as he sees fit. Paul acknowledges that this doesn’t seem fair to us. He then reminded us though, of our place in God’s creation. Paul said God is the potter and we are the clay. God made us. We belong to him and he doesn’t exist to do our will. Our purpose is to be what he wants us to be, not the other way around.
This isn’t easy for us. Our culture exalts self-actualization. We’re independent, following our dreams. We do what we want because we’re Americans and we’re free. To accept that we’re not at the center of our own reality is painful. Like me in college though, it does no good to deny the truth. Following our own will may get us what we want temporarily, but, because God made us to follow him, our path eventually leads to destruction.
As Christians, we may accept this in our minds, but how do we daily live? Do we live as the clay, asking God what he wants us to do and to be? Or do we live as though we’re still the big deal, at the center of it all? Daily, do we follow God our ourselves? Accepting our place in God’s creation is the only path to the blessed life for which he’s created us.