Thursday, March 14 2019
Rescued – visualized – prepared – centred – under pressure – turned – polished…
And now: dried clay.
About as dry as my mind and my inspiration have been in regards to this reflection for the past several days. In the drying step of the wheel-throwing process of a clay vessel, there must be some applications we can make to human life, but what are they?
Well, let’s just start writing and see what revelation I have…
Drying is in fact a very important step in the making of a wheel-thrown clay vessel. There are at least two very important things to know and remember: 1) clay objects, especially those with varying thicknesses, must be dried slowly and evenly. 2) all clay objects must be completely and totally dried before being baked in the oven.
A slow and even drying process is absolutely vital. That is why clay vessels ought to be only air-dried – each one placed on a shelf where the air can freely circulate around it. If the clay pieces are drying too fast, they should be lightly covered with some plastic. If there is too much humidity in the air, and the clay pieces are not drying at all, they can be covered with newspaper which absorbs the condensation in the vessel, and then covered with plastic.
Wet or humid clay contains a great deal of water, a minimum of 25%. When the clay begins to dry, the water inside begins to evaporate. During this process, the clay particles draw closer to each other, and the vessel shrinks. If the drying process is slow and even, the vessel will become dry as leather – not completely dry, but with no further fear of shrinkage. On the other hand, with a forced or an uneven drying process (as with a heater or a dryer, for example) this shrinkage could result in a cracked, warped, broken or even exploded vessel. And if the clay piece is not completely dried before placing in the oven for baking, there too it will most likely crack, twist or break.
This drying process has gotten me to reflect on the deserts of our lives. Those moments or those times when everything around us and everything within us is dry, arid, easily cracked or broken altogether. When we feel abandoned and alone, possibly cheated and betrayed – when we feel too much “heat” during the day, and too much “cold” during the night – when we feel battered by dangers and fears, by anxieties and depression.
Perhaps we have ended up in a desert because of our own unconfessed sin, and the consequences are eating us alive. Psalm 32:1-4 says, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
Perhaps we are in a desert-time in our lives because God Himself is testing us or because He is allowing Satan to tempt us there – just as He did with Job, His blameless and upright servant (Job 1); just as He did with His own Son, Jesus (Luke 4).
Perhaps we are in a desert because God Himself has drawn us there to speak to our heart – not to take us and leave us in that inhospitable place, but to encourage us, to comfort us and to challenge our heart in His presence. “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness [desert] and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)
If we are in a desert-place because of unconfessed sin – confessing it is the very first thing we must do to be able to leave. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin… Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.” (Psalm 32:5,10)
If we are in a desert-place because God is testing us and allowing Satan to tempt us there – then let’s make every effort to be found obedient and faithful, without fainting or giving in, without rebelling or cursing God. Just as Job did: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:20-22) And just as Jesus did: every time Satan appeared to Him with another temptation, He answered, “It is written…” – and every time He was delivered from the temptation through the power of the Word of His Father. “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him…” (Luke 4:13) And so what is the promise for those of us who also resist and overcome temptation? “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
And lastly, if we are in a desert-place because God Himself has allured us to speak tenderly to our hearts there – then let us go confidently and trustingly, knowing that He is with us, that He will protect us, that He will watch over us, and that He will fulfill His purpose in and through us in that place.
Whatever the reason may be for the desert-place in our lives, the most important thing is this: just as a clay vessel needs a slow and even drying process so that it doesn’t break, we too need a perfectly God-appointed time in the desert-processes of our lives. Those times cannot be forced – they should not be hurried – and they definitely must not be shortened or aborted completely. Because, if they are foolishly or stubbornly forced or hurried, our growing processes will crack and break – and all that God had purposed for our good during that desert-time will simply not be completed in us. And if we interrupt or abort our deserts altogether, God will obviously not be able to fulfil His good will and His perfect plans for our lives.
“This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.”
““The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.”
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