The potter and the clay: God is working on you

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By Al Earley

Most of us have had the experience of working with clay. The lump of clay feels good in our hands as we work it and make it soft. Then we make it into something of our own creation. It probably isn’t very good by worldly standards, but we were probably impressed with what we made because we made it.

One thing I can guarantee you is that the clay never told us what it wanted us to make it into.

Jeremiah is inspired by God to use the powerful image of God as the potter and you and I as clay.

We read in Jeremiah 18:3-6, “So I went down to the potter’s house and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the LORD. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.’”

Notice the potter does not throw away the clay when it doesn’t turn out the way the potter wants. That is good news for us because God does not throw us away or ever give up on us, but instead is always working us into a beautiful creation. I imagine there are times God wishes we would stop complaining and giving orders and let Him mold us into what He desires without telling God what we want.

A psychiatrist who visited a rescue mission listened intently to the testimonies of many converts. The superintendent asked him if he would like to say a word.

He said, “Tonight I have been given an opportunity to observe something I did not know existed anywhere. It has been my privilege to listen to the testimony of men who were glad to witness to what Christ had done for them. I know nothing about that but I confess I cannot otherwise explain what has taken place in your lives. I have met a few of you. Drunk and high, some of you have come under my care at the hospital. Now here you are alive, well-dressed, delivered and in your right minds. I do not know how the miracle has happened but of one thing I am confident, nothing in science can account for this change. That kind of gospel is worth preaching to anyone, anywhere.”

Do you know what kind of beautiful vessel God is trying to make you into? Have you been fighting the Lord’s design? Have you been trusting in yourself and making yourself into what you desire? Have you been overly concerned with what others think you should be and let too many other people stick their fingers into the clay that is your life?

Handmade pottery is truly a work of art. Imagine what the clay has gone through to become beautiful. It starts out as a hard, brown, lifeless lump of clay. Then the potter starts to work it. If the clay could talk would it complain? Certainly we do whenever the Master Potter tries to work us.

We scream and holler for God to stop and God says, “Not yet!” Then we are put on the wheel and the process of shaping us into something is painful. Air pockets must be worked out, those areas God is not satisfied with. Lots of water must be added to keep us moist and pliable but God never throws us away. We complain that it hurts, and ask God to leave us alone, but God says, “Not yet!”

Then the Master Potter must refine us with fire. “Ouch! That is hot.” We scream that we cannot take it and plead for God to stop, but God says, “Not yet!”

Is it over? No, we are painted and put back in the oven. Somehow we survive this second firing by the power of the Master Potter and then he shows us what He has made.

We look at ourselves and realize, like the finest handmade pottery, we are beautiful creations of the Master Potter. God knows what He is doing with us. Let Him, and Him alone, mold your life into what He has created you to be.

Al Earley is pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see www.lagrangepres.com.

The views in this column are those of the writer.