Monday, March 4 2019
Chosen and rescued, visualized and thought-through, cleaned and prepared – and most importantly, centred.
Now the clay is ready to be worked.
And now begins the most difficult part: when the potter, with amazing dexterity and sensitivity, begins to shape the clay on the wheel. And truly, the skill with which a good potter works is amazing, because it looks like such an easy and simple thing to do, but in reality it is very difficult and complicated.
And so, what is the key in this part of the process of elaborating a vessel? Pressure. Pressure from both hands and from a few fingers.
- pressure so that the clay will always remain completely centred on the wheel
- at the start, pressure to raise up a cone and then to shape it into a cylinder, the initial bases of all works of clay
- pressure from the outside: from the sides inward and upward to lift up the clay, and from the top downward to adjust the height – and pressure from the inside outward to form the walls
- uniform and constant pressure, so that the vessel too is uniform and symmetrical
- sometimes strong, and sometimes gentler, pressure – depending on what the end goal is
- pressure from various fingers, especially the thumb and index and middle fingers, in order to do the delicate work
- pressure from one hand that stabilizes the work in progress, and pressure from the other that is doing the moulding and shaping
- and always with just the right amount of water to keep the clay soft and malleable
And isn’t it just the same with us human beings – clay in the hands of God our Potter?
How easy it is for us to lose the centrality of Jesus Christ in our lives – to begin to look to other people or other things for our stability, our guidance, and our hope. How easy it is for us to stray from the centre of His will for our lives. For this reason, God is always putting the “pressure” of the Holy Spirit, of His Word and of life circumstances upon us so that we might remain well-centred in Christ and in His plans and purpose for our lives.
Always, when there is a need for a marked and radical change in our lives, God’s “pressure” upon us is heavy and firm. Do we want to grow tall and strong? Then we will have to bear the powerful hands of God putting pressure on us.
Sometimes the “pressure” of God in our lives comes from the outside: from our overwhelming and devastating life-circumstances. Sometimes it comes from within: from our own way of being, our own character, our own attitudes that torment us and cause us pain as they are transformed and perfected within us. As Psalm 139:5 says, in different translations: “You hem me in / You have encircled me / You have enclosed me / You squeeze me in from behind and in front… and You lay your hand upon me.” God’s hands surround us on all sides, putting “pressure” on us in the daily process of sanctifying us, so that we might be shaped and moulded into the people He wants us to become.
Sometimes God’s “pressure” is very strong in our lives, and at other times much gentler. Sometimes God puts His entire powerful hand upon us, and it hurts terribly when He presses and squeezes us in certain places. As 2 Corinthians 4:8 says in the New Living Translation: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.” Other times, He only uses two or three fingers to do a more delicate work on us, and we feel relief and rest. But His “pressure” upon us is always exact, constant and for the necessary time, so that we might be made into upright and honorable people of integrity.
We are always a masterpiece being created and formed by both of God’s hands: one that is actually doing the shaping, and the other that is holding us stable. Just like Psalm 139:10 says: “… Your left hand will guide me, and Your right hand will hold onto me.” (Biblia del Peregrino) One hand guiding and forming, the other hand holding on and upholding.
And always we are a work that needs the water of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to keep us malleable and workable.
Oftentimes, we are not in a pleasant part of the process of being shaped into beautiful and useful vessels. Sometimes we are being prepared and cleaned, and other times we are being "pressured" – and these processes of God are very hard and very difficult: they can cause much pain, many questions, many tears and much anxiety.
Dear friend: in these days do you feel the powerful hands of God heavy upon you, putting "pressure" on you from above, from beneath or from the outside in? Do you fear that your life circumstances are burying you alive? Do you see that your own character is disappointing you and letting you down? “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) When He puts pressure on you, it is for your good – when He puts His hands upon you, and He moves you or squeezes you or crushes you, it is because He wants to make something different, something better, out of you.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Yes! There is “pressure” from God upon us – and sometimes it is a lot, and very strong, and for a seemingly very long time. But always, always, always – as with all good potters – our heavenly Potter has His eyes and His hands upon us to surround us and to work on us with intentionality and purpose, with complete knowledge, with experience and mastery, with craftsmanship, with commitment, with painstaking care, with love and with delight.
Because the promise of God is true and trustworthy: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)
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