Monday, February 25 2019
I had no idea. I thought it was actually quite easy and simple.
You just go out and get the clay, which is basically wet soil that you can find anywhere, you sit down at a table, and you start to work and create.
But it isn’t that easy and simple at all. You have to know where to find good clay. It can’t be too dry, because too dry means too hard – and hard clay cannot be worked. It can’t be too wet, because too wet means too watery and it sticks to your hands and to the table – and so wet clay cannot be worked either. And good clay has to have a certain malleability, something called “plasticity”, which makes it just right for shaping and moulding.
Once found, as good as the clay may seem to be, it is often a tedious process to clean it of all its impurities and imperfections, and to prepare it so that it is just right for being worked on. Any stone, any particle of sand, any root – no matter how tiny they may seem to be – must be removed from the clay. Because if they are left, they will cause a crack in the vessel. Any bubble of air – no matter how small it may seem to be – must be popped. Because if it is left, it will cause the vessel to explode when it is baking in the oven. And too, the clay must be completely uniform, with no hard nodules nor parts that are too soft – and so, it must be kneaded and kneaded, sometimes with pressure and sometimes more gently. In this way, all the impurities and all the air are worked out of the clay, and in the mixing the clay becomes completely smooth and consistent – and so it is made ready to be shaped and moulded.
Our heavenly Potter has much the same labour of love with us, His earthly works of clay. Before making us into the vessels that He wants us to be, He has to prepare us. And even while He is in the process of shaping us, He needs to continue cleaning us.
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God has said: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses… And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (36:25-26)
Because we are called to be perfect just as God, our heavenly Father, is perfect (Matthew 5:48) “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7) – that is, to be separated and set apart from sin, and to be purified and sanctified in holiness. Because Jesus Christ, loving the church and giving Himself up for her, is purifying and sanctifying her, “to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
That is why we have to confess our sins, daily and constantly – and God “is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – “and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:9,7)
That is why we must allow our Potter to take us, and to remove whatever hardened heart, whatever tiny stone of obstinacy and rebellion, whatever sand particle of intolerance and dispute, whatever root of resentment and bitterness we may have lodged in our inner being…
That is why we must let Him pop all the bubbles of arrogance and self-sufficiency that we have inside us…
That is why we must accept the hands of our Potter upon us, “kneading” our character and our will until they are uniform and just like Christ’s – “until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)
Dear friend: how are you today? How is your heart? Is it dry and hard like a stone, or is it soft and receptive as a heart of flesh? Is it full of the unyielding boulders or pebbles and the dirty roots of sin; or is it forgiven and cleansed by Jesus because of your regular habit of confession? Just like clay in the hand of a potter, are you allowing God to work and to purify your inner being, your character, your thoughts and your attitudes – so that He might sanctify you more and more, and so that you might be prepared and useful clay in His hands?
I hope so.
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