“Yet you Lord are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 Am I the potter or the clay? I recently concluded a six-week pottery class. To be honest, I was not a good student. I skipped two classes, and I think I was not very patient in the other four. This kind of surprised me. I wanted to be a potter. I like shaping things out of nothing. I like controlling the creative process. Perhaps what I didn’t like was the reality that in pottery, while the clay is submissive to the potter, the potter must be somewhat submissive to the clay. Perhaps I had trouble being submissive. I am afraid it is not just in my pottery class. More times than not, I want to be the potter of my life and not the clay. But clearly, when I do the shaping instead of God, well, it does not end up a beautiful piece of art. Isaiah’s analogy of the potter and the clay is most assuredly appropriate. Yesterday and today. Whichever role I play (the potter or the clay), will make the difference in the outcome of my life. Today. Tomorrow. Eternally. To shape clay on a potter’s wheel, the clay has to be in the right form. It must possess the right ingredients. It is the balance of earth and water. Too much of one makes it difficult, if not impossible, to shape to its best design. I need the right ingredients in my own life. I think those three ingredients are scripture, prayer, and worship. If I fill my life with a balance of all three, I am ready for the next step, the kneading. It is the kneading of the clay that removes the air pockets and the grit that might linger in the clay. These are the impurities that can cause a vessel to explode in the firing process. It is critical that the clay be properly kneaded. It is the hard pushing and smashing of the clay that removes the impurities. I am like the clay. I need to be kneaded by God. I need those impurities pushed and smashed out of me. Kneading hurts. It hurts me, but I also think it hurts God. But it is necessary. It is the first state of being submissive to the potter’s hands. Centering is the next stage. The clay must be centered on the potter’s wheel. If the clay is not centered, the shaping while turning will result in a mess. It is about balance. I must be in a Christ-centered state to allow God to shape me. The next stage is the shaping stage. It is the throwing of the pot, the shaping of the clay, as it revolves around the center. I must revolve around the Center. Only then can the potter’s touch, the touch of delicate pressure, shape me to be His creation, the creation He designed me to be before time. The last step is the firing. Only when the clay is the right balance of ingredients, only when it is kneaded of impurities, only when it has been centered, and only when the Creator has shaped it to His satisfaction, is it then ready to be placed in the fire. The fire makes it strong. The fire brings out the radiance and brilliance of color, but it also brings out its strength. The right steps leading up to the firing, make the clay withstand the fire. Withstanding the fire brings it into its true beauty. We are all vessels. And at times we are all brittle, breakable, and even broken vessels. Even after an artist goes through all the steps, sometimes it just doesn’t turn out exactly as planned. The artist keeps going. The artist keeps shaping. We are the vessels. And as Paul tells us in ll Corinthians 4, we are indeed jars of clay. We are just ordinary earthen vessels, common, brittle, breakable vessels. But it is inside these common, everyday, breakable earthen vessels that the God of the universe has placed the Treasure of the universe. The Christ treasure lives within us. And with the Treasure inside we may crack, but we won’t break. We may leak, but we won’t empty. We may chip, but we won’t be thrown away. Most importantly, with the Treasure inside us, we are created as His vessels to pour that Treasure out onto others. I may want to be the potter in my life from time to time. I may want to keep insisting that I don’t want to be submissive to the Potter’s hands and that I don’t want to be the clay. But the truth is still eternal. I am not the potter. I am the clay. I am a lump of clay. My prayer is that I will submit to the Potter’s hands to shape me into the vessel He desires to create, not into the vessel I might think I can create. After all, I only lasted four weeks in a beginner’s pottery class. My track record as a potter is not that impressive.
Spirit of the Living God, shape me, mold me, fill me, use me.