A work in progress

January 15, 2014 — 3 Comments

pottery-makingAs a follower of Christ, I am very familiar with Scripture, although I’ve read far more than I’ve practically applied in my everyday life. I’m sure the same could be said for most believers. Often in personal study, I get new insights and perspectives. At other times I really get a deeper sense of connection with a well-known passage.

There’s a verse that God has placed on my heart today that I just feel compelled to share with you:

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8, ESV)

Appreciation for Creativity
Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve loved to make things with my hands. True confession: I was the kid who got upset when my parents took away my wooden building blocks when I was 14. I’m not sure what the problem was exactly; it wasn’t like they were going to expire! But I’m over it. (Aren’t you glad?)

I enjoy being creative, even when blocks aren’t involved. When I was about 8-years-old, I received a Play-Doh ‘fun factory’ for Christmas — you know, the awesome plastic gadget that turns clumps of Play-Doh into cool shapes, confetti, and spaghetti-like strands. I thought it was really cool, but I seem to remember my Mom muttering something under her breath about it. But I could be wrong, I suppose.

Acknowledgement of Everyday Struggles
One thing I’m not wrong about is that as a Christian, I have really come to appreciate the fact that I’m a work in progress. While I belong to God, He is still at work within me to transform me into the image of His Son. That means that I still struggle with the same kinds of things as other humans:

  • I still get angry and lose my temper sometimes.
  • I still struggle at times to control my tongue, and as a result, hurt people (especially people I really love).
  • I stay up too late, work too much, and exercise too little.
  • I battle daily with impure thoughts and temptation to sin.

You get the picture. Just because a person responds to the call of God doesn’t magically make him or her perfect. While we often think of God as the one doing all the invitations to pursue Him, the reality is that saying ‘YES’ to God is really an open invitation for Him to take over and truly make something new from something old, beaten, and battered.

After all, He is the potter, and we are described as clay in His hands. Whenever I visit a theme park, there are three places where I lose all sense of time: the saltwater taffy shop, the glass-blowing shop, and the pottery shop

All three of these things have fascinated me since I was very young. And I guess it’s true what they say: some things never get old. If I had to narrow it to one favorite stop along the fun-filled amusement park paths, I’d have to choose the pottery shop because it really does just provide such a powerful visual of this Scriptural description of the Creator with His creation.

Now I’m no expert on pottery-making, but there are a few basic facts that hold true.

The Clay
Clay is essentially made of some pretty basic elements, like dirt and water. It makes no decisions. It has no life of its own. It exists solely for purposes that are determined exclusively by the potter.

The Potter
The potter is the master craftsman in charge of the clay. He makes all the decisions about color, density, consistency, and the intended shape of the final product, which he alone envisions.

The Process
Some clay is quite pliable fairly early on in the process, depending, of course, on a variety of factors ranging from the natural environment to the temperature and humidity. Other times, clay can be quite stubborn. In these cases, the potter must invest time — often considerable time — in working the clay to the right degree of pliability. When he decides the clay is ready, he begins to shape it into the desired form, often using a potter’s wheel or by the process of hand-crafting.

I don’t want to bore you with details of pottery-making that you could easily research for yourself. But in the spirit of transparency, I do want to admit three things:

(1) I have a natural tendency to be stiff and stubborn.
(2) I can sense the Potter stretching me and preparing me for a purpose only He can see right now.
(3) I want to be sufficiently pliable, fully cooperative, and totally submissive to His purpose and plan.

Pain, Purpose, and Promise
I’ll probably experience pain as God stretches and shapes me as He desires. At some point I may get coated with a special glaze, only to then be placed in the fire. I won’t necessarily know the color He’s specially selected or the reason for His choices. But ultimately none of that matters because He is the potter, and I’m just the clay.

My prayer is that no matter what you’re going through, and no matter how tough and ‘rough around the edges’ you may be, you too will feel the Potter stretching you, molding you, and shaping you into the image of Christ. And you know what? If you yield to the Potter’s hands, you’ll never have to worry about your purpose or your appearance — because He makes beautiful things.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
Have you recognized God as the potter? How do you see Him working in your life?

3 responses to A work in progress

  1. 

    Beyond comprehension what OUR LORD does with us sinners! So glad that HE DOES WHAT HE DOES, even if I never understand it. THANK YOU, LORD!

  2. 

    I was just thinking about your blog “A Work in Progress.” As a former potter I have always loved this symbolism. But, I also know the reason it is some times diffucult to work the clay. If it is too stiff and unpliable, it needs more water…like the living water we receive from Christ.

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