the potters hand

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My mom has some of the projects I did in art class as a kid, wild horses couldn’t drag them away from her. Not that they’re good, they just represent a special part of her life and the work done even if not to the perfection of all of her kids.

She even has a few of the sculptures sitting on knick-knack shelves. When I see them I’m reminded what a struggle it was to take that clay and try to make it look like something that someone could recognize as anything other than a lump of clay. Man oh man, they’re really bad…

I recall faintly when I made those almost recognizable lumps being frustrated beyond belief. I admit that I flattened more than one lump with the side of my fist used as a hammer.

That clay seemed to have a life and mind of its own. My desire for that clay was to look like a fine piece of art, perfect in form, bringing me the sculptor a bit of honor. That never happened…

At church yesterday I was reminded of the words in Romans when Paul used the analogy of us as the clay and God as the sculptor. Paraphrasing, Paul says, “As a piece of clay in the hand of God, how are you going to tell the Great Potter the desire of His heart?”

Although knowing the story well, I never stopped to consider the difficulty many of us have been to the Great Potter. It may be the preparing part of the process that is the most taxing to be able to use the lumps of clay.

Some of us are a bit softer, need less changing in content to be able to be shaped and used for our specific purpose. Others are a bit stiff or what I like to call dense or stubborn, maybe a bit of both.

The dense ones need to be worked harder and longer before they can be used for the purpose of their design. I freely admit that I’m one of the dense lumps of clay. The process is painful, but without the pain and change to become pliable in the Master’s hand there can be no beauty. I’m referring to inside our souls and the actions that spill forth in deed and heart.

Without the folding, kneading, and pressing part in the process there is no chance to become that piece of art God had in His Supreme mind to create.

I ponder the frustration involved in creating a sculpture out of a lump of clay that has no mind or free will. I compare that with the free will God’s given us to use during the sculpting process.

I’m a bit more than relieved to say the least that God doesn’t use the side of His mighty fist like a hammer on us; the unruly lumps of clay. Instead, God shows love, patience, compassion, mercy, grace, and generosity to us the squirming, whining, disobedient lumps.

When I was a younger more dense piece of clay, I didn’t want to be shaped in the image of anybody but myself. Like many of us I wanted to go my own way, do my own thing. Once God slows us down long enough to get a glance at the reflection inside our heart we all find the same thing… It’s not pretty.

These days the most comfortable place of peace and joy I find is in the palm of the Great Potter.

The sculpting isn’t done yet and it ain’t pretty, but it’s getting better…

With each turn in His palm. Each turn of the potters hand…