Monday, March 11 2019
It is so very hard to be clay! To be rescued and chosen, visualized and designed is quite wonderful. But everything that follows is so very difficult!
Who enjoys the process of being prepared and kneaded in purity and holiness, and to constantly have the stones of sin and the air bubbles of pride and anger removed? Who delights in being thrown onto the wheel, and to continually and firmly be re-centred in the will of the Potter? Who longs for His strong hands on us, sometimes pushing us up and out with difficult circumstances, and other times crushing and pounding our character and behaviour? And who likes the idea of having to submit to the starts and stops and turns of the wheel of life that only the Potter decides?
And even with all this, the vessel is still not finished! There is still work to be done on it! The walls of the pot need to be well-formed, the clay a perfect thickness and roundness. The upper walls need to be well-shaped, so that they are thin and symmetrical. On the one side, the clay needs to be pinched in order to form the spout. On the other side, a handle needs to be made and attached. Then, when the vessel has been shaped just as the potter has visualized it, he takes it off the wheel with a string or a wire, and he puts it aside to dry. When it has dried for more or less a day, he needs to smooth and polish it: with a wooden tool much like a knife, the potter needs to remove all the excess clay that would not allow the vessel to sit firmly. And now is the time, when the clay is half-dry, to decorate the vessel, using another sharp tool to make the desired marks and figures.
More pressure from the hands, pinches with the fingers, pointed objects, string and wire, sharp tools – all these are a part of and are necessary in the process of smoothing and polishing a clay vessel.
And all this work is also a part of and is necessary when our heavenly Potter wants to shape us, the clay in His hands. How many times have we not felt His hands around us, putting pressure on us to make us more symmetrical and balanced. How many times have we not felt his fingers pinching us on one side, attaching something on the other – squeezing our patience, adding another challenge? How many times have we not felt the strings and wires of God in our lives, cutting us and removing us from where we are no longer meant to be? How many times have we not felt the knives of God on our character, our attitudes and our behaviour, scraping and sanding us so that we might be more clean and polished? How many times have we not felt the sharp tools of God upon us, decorating and embellishing us with His grace, His goodness and His love?
Sometimes, we feel so deeply and strongly all that our Potter does with us. Everything hurts. Everything causes a wound. But everything is necessary so that we might be shaped into the clay vessels that He wants us to be.
“But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay…?” (Romans 9:20-21ª)
Our Potter, working constantly in us and in our lives, is shaping us into “vessels for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Through us, His clay vessels, He longs to show the world the treasure of the glory of God in the face of Christ, together with the light of the knowledge of Him and the surpassing greatness of His power (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).
Dear friend: that God as a Potter works on us, smoothens us, and decorates us with His tools that squeeze and cut and sand us – all that is so difficult! We would wish to avoid all pain in life. But it is precisely the processes that hurt us, the ones that polish us and that leave God’s marks on us, that sanctify us and embellish us the most, and that make us the most useful to Him. May we allow Him then, as our Potter, to do want He wants and wills and needs to do with the clay of our lives.
And may we remember too, that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
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