On a sunny afternoon in August, I watched some talented ceramic artists demonstrate their craft.
One potter told me he often gets requests to make multiple identical items for customers, such as ten bowls or eight plates. Because pottery is his livelihood he happily obliges, but he admittedly finds that kind of work tedious. It’s merely forcing clay into compliance.
His preference is to approach the clay with an entirely different mindset. He described it as “allowing the clay to determine its final shape.” Those hours of work for him are enjoyable and fulfilling, during which a standard ball of clay transforms into a unique work of art.
“Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:6
Many of us have preconceived ideas about what God will do to us if we offer ourselves as malleable clay in his hands. We’ve observed people who turned “religious” — they morphed into clones, reproductions of a predictable Christian prototype. We recognize that something disconcerting happened to them “at that place”. “With those people.”
And there it is. At that place. With those people.
Outside of religion and inside too, it is so often at the hands of humanity that people are shaped.
It is decidedly different to be clay in the hands of God. He doesn’t have a mold into which he forces us. He does not produce multiple identical bowls or plates.
The most willingly pliable clay in the potter’s hand is the most passionately protected, respected, loved, and attended. He is devoted to the clay, working with the properties and qualities within it. The shaping is a partnership between the clay and the potter.
God’s hands don’t touch clay to impose a shape, but to FIND its shape.
He patiently removes the effects of an erroneous world to uncover the clay’s uniqueness. He applies careful pressure not for the purpose of conformity, but to correct what was wrongfully misshapen. Through his Holy Spirit, God meticulously works the clay until all the valuable qualities within become a harmonious part of the whole vessel.
For the good of the vessel. For the good of all vessels.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8
Photography by Lou Lourdeau. Thank you once again for sharing your talent.