Skip to main content

Clay in his hands

A potter is one who fashions clay into vessels of purposeful use.   Some may be fashioned into great works of beauty, such as for display and placed in positions of honor perhaps a little more than others.  Others may be fashioned into vessels of great service, such as those which allow water to be carried from a well back to the home.  Still others may be fashioned into the vessels which will withstand great heat in the scorching ovens.  Each has a purpose - each fulfills the purpose for which it was created.  Each has been created by the hand of the potter - with his intention fully revealed in how he creates each vessel.  In the "fashioning", he takes great care to create what he envisions for each vessel - knowing the purpose for which he is creating it.  If he knows the purpose of each vessel, then what he "puts into" each vessel in his creative power is also what he expects to "get out" of each each of these vessels.

You, Lord, are our Father. We are nothing but clay, but you are the potter who molded us. (Isaiah 64:8)

The potter in our passage is none other than God himself.  The clay - us.  We all start in just about the same fashion - not as fully formed vessels, but as a vision of what he desires to create!  In his creative process, he brings forth each of us as vessels of specific purpose.  The vessel doesn't define for the potter what it will be - he does the defining!  If we are to truly understand the analogy of the potter and the clay, perhaps we should explore just a little about the process of creating such a vessel.  The most important part of making each vessel is to choose the right "clay" with which to create the vessel.  To be "thrown" on the wheel, the potter must choose clay with the right characteristics to withstand the "throwing" process - with enough plasticity, not too demanding of the water as he fashions it, and strong enough to hold shape as he works it into form.  Why do these things matter?

- Flexibility is probably the greatest "demand" the potter has in choosing the clay for his work on the wheel.  If the clay is not flexible, it will not hold up to the demands of the wheel. In others words, it won't be "workable", even in the most skilled potter's hands.  Stop to consider for a moment a dryer, stiffer clay.  Even if the potter were to get it formed into shape, what has he had to go through to do it?  If you ask someone who "throws clay" on a wheel, they will tell you it takes an extreme amount of pressure on their part to get the clay to take form.  The pressure takes a huge demand on their physical strength.  So, choosing a more flexible clay makes the formative process easier.  It doesn't mean he cannot use a less flexible clay, but it may be more suited for the "less finite" vessels.  Even "flexible" clay has a "balance" which must be maintained.  The potter knows a little of the "less flexible" clay mixed with the more "flexible" actually produces a stronger vessel in the end.  So, lest we lose hope that we are the kind of clay he might find a purposeful use for, take heart.  Even the more stubborn clay has the potential of being created into a vessel of purpose in his hands.  He just has a little "stronger hand" he must exert into the fashioning process.

- Strength is what gives the clay the ability to be fashioned into what some refer to as a "walled" vessel.  In other words, it isn't just a plate - it is an upright vessel, capable of holding much because of the upright walls.  Something interesting I learned about the strength of the clay a potter chooses is the  make-up of the clay itself.  The clay usually contains a couple of different "clay" ingredients:  the clay itself, some very finely ground sand, and perhaps some "grog".  Grog is actually fired clay which has been ground up. Added to the throwing clay, it adds strength by reducing the "shrinkage" of the clay.  It kind of warms my heart to know that God doesn't look for "pure" clay to do the fashioning of his vessels!  In fact, he uses the things in this life which add strength to our "clay"!  Those times of being put through the fire - they add strength and help us to avoid "shrinking away" in times of greater stress.  Even the "coarse" stuff in life adds strength to the final product. This simple fact should cause each of us to take heart!

- Absorption is also key to the potter producing the vessel he envisions.  A clay which takes on too much water will eventually become less likely to hold the form - it will be subject to a lot of shrinkage and perhaps crack in the drying process.  There is a fine balance between being too dry and being too soaked - the potter must maintain this balance in order for the vessel to be worked on the wheel and endure the process of "curing" without further damage.

Talk to someone who works with clay and they will tell you that "aged" clay is actually easier to work with.  To age the clay, they add what needs to be added and then leave it open to the air for a couple of days.  Wouldn't you think this would dry it out and make it harder to work with?  In truth, the potter does this to allow small microorganisms to take growth within the clay!  Why?  They add flexibility to the clay.  Even that which we might at first see as harmful and kind of difficult to deal with is something the potter actually puts into service in fashioning the vessel he envisions!  

The potter knows what he envisions in each of us.  He has the right clay chosen, with just the right amount of finely ground sand, ground fired "grog", and the right mix of that which will give us the greatest flexibility in his hand.  Whether we be a vessel of service to bring refreshing to those we touch, or the vessel which will serve up the tasty "meals" which will minister to their souls, we each serve a purpose because we have been fashioned by his hands.  Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce