Today is Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The suggested blog post was to reprint an article you’d written. But I decided to write about clay instead.
I’ve only taken one clay class before. I was surprised to discover how difficult it was to shape and how it got so hard when dry.
From the rectangular slab, with a lot of the instructor’s guidance and help, I made a platter out of it like the one below, only I wish mine had looked 1/10 this good. I either used a fish stamp or painted a fish on it; I don’t remember which. But it was very crude-looking and ugly.
However, it was an accomplishment since I’d never taken a pottery class before. I would love to take a pottery wheel class one day.
This event happened over 20 years ago, and I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I believe I had to leave the clay platter at the building to finish drying or maybe it was for the firing. Whatever was needed, I had to leave my first pottery piece there at the shop and planned to come pick it back up later. Between having our baby Leah in November, Thanksgiving dinner, heavy snow, and then eventually Christmas, I forgot all about it.
When it was time for our family to open our Christmas gifts, Ray told me in front of everyone that he had been secretly setting a lot of money aside to get me a very special gift. He said he had visited many stores until finally he came across this extremely rare piece of art that was very valuable.
I curiously and carefully opened the present, and when I saw the rectangular platter with the fish on it, I was completely bewildered.
I had seen that somewhere before. I also couldn’t figure out why Ray had paid so much money for something that looked like this. He busted out laughing at my totally confused expression and speechlessness. Then he explained the art studio had called to say my platter was ready and he had gone to pick it up before they got rid of it.
I’m not sure where the fish platter is now. Maybe I gave it away or threw it away. Maybe it’s time to take that pottery wheel class and make a beautiful pot. But clay teaches us some very important lessons.
The Potter and the Clay
God created man out of the dust of the earth (clay – Genesis 2:5-7). From Ray C. Stedman, The Pot and the Potter, from Death of a Nation, Jeremiah the prophet saw the potter and the clay and knew he was looking at a picture of himself, of every person, and of every nation. God is the Potter and we are the clay.
The potter’s wheel is constantly turning, bringing the clay against the potter’s hand. The wheel stands for the turning circumstances of our lives, under the control of God the Potter. Our lives and our hearts are being shaped and molded by Him. (Stedman)
“Here is another message to Jeremiah from the Lord: Go down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made, and I will talk to you there. I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar that he was forming didn’t turn out as he wished, so he kneaded it into a lump and started again. Then the Lord said: O Israel, can’t I do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” – Jeremiah 18: 1-6
A potter knows what kind of vessel he wants to make with the clay. God knows what kind of vessel He wants you and me to be. He has the right to decide. And sometimes we protest His shaping and His will:
Paul says in Romans 9: 19-21: “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”
I am not very pliable. God wants to form me into the image of the perfect Christ-man, but I often balk at the process of being thrown on the wheel and pressed, shaped, and reworked – God wanting me to submit to His all-knowing Wisdom and His loving, strong, powerful hands, and stubborn, hard-headed me wanting things to go my own way.
Again and again, God the Potter attempts to use the turning and trying circumstances of my life to cause me to yield to His Lordship, and again and again, I won’t bend. I have an iron will.
The Potter presses harder. I fight. I shout, “NO!”
I squirm out of His hands. I run. I grumble like the stiff-necked Israelites who wandered in the desert 40 years, when God just wanted to deliver them and take them to the Promise Land.
Will I never learn? Will I never submit and yield to God and His purposes? Do I want to become like Jesus or not? Why is it so hard?! Why do people act the way they do and stress me out so bad?
“When the pressure the potter applies is successful in turning the clay in the right direction, the potter seems to repent, the pressure is relieved, and the clay is allowed then to remain in the form it has taken. But when something in the clay resists, the potter then seems to repent of making a vessel at all, and he crushes it into a lump, and begins again to make it yet into the vessel he desires.” (Pots, Potter, and Clay, http://www.ldolphin.org/clay.html)
I don’t want to be crushed. I want to be the vessel God desires.
I don’t want to be an ordinary vessel either – but one for honorable, even extraordinary, use.
” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 2: 20-21
God the Potter, help me the clay to yield. When the circumstances happen tomorrow that test my patience so, let me be a vessel consecrated to you, fit for use.