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.
Years ago I thought I’d give pottery a go. It didn’t last very long! I soon realised that any real potters I’d ever watched working had made it look so much easier than it is; it requires skill to take a piece of clay and transform it into a something beautiful and purposeful.
A piece of clay has never, in the history of time, turned itself into something; a lump of clay by itself will remain just that; a lump of clay. Shapeless. Purposeless.
The clay needs to be skilfully shaped by the potters hands. This is a picture of what God does with us. Apart from Him, we are just like that piece of clay.
Life Has a Way of Not Turning Out The Way We Had Planned
Don’t you find that life often doesn’t quite turn out the way we thought it was going to? It’s our response to these times that matters. These times are opportunities for us to shaped by the loving hands of our Father the Potter. The tendency in these “shaping times” is to want to kick against what’s happening. To cry “Lord, what are you doing?”
Author Charles Swindoll said, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it”
In Isaiah 45:9-10 the Lord says to us through Isaiah: “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’
In Jeremiah 18:3-4 Jeremiah has an encounter with God. The Lord tells him to go down to the potter’s house because He wants to speak to Jeremiah through an object lesson: So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
What stands out to me here is that this piece of clay was actually in the Potter’s hands but became “spoiled”. Have you ever seen that happen? It’s fascinating to watch. The piece of clay starts to look like a lovely, shapely vase, and then, suddenly, it seems to wobble a bit and then become misshapen. The potter simply picks it up, mushes it up into a ball of clay again with a bit of water, and starts again.
Staying in The Centre of The Potter’s Wheel
It’s a daily choice to follow Jesus. To present myself to Him: Romans 12:1-2 present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Before a potter even starts to shape a pot from a piece of clay, it’s important that the clay is centred on the potter’s wheel – not off even by a couple of millimetres, but pressed right into the very centre.
I read this story recently of how we all can so easily slip off centre:
In the 1700’s, a young Christian lady was taking a journey. She started a conversation with the gentleman seated in her carriage, a stranger, hoping to talk to him about the Lord. But he really didn’t want to know; he made it quite plain that talking about God was off limits. Since she couldn’t engage him conversation she decided to quietly sing. She felt led by the Spirit to sing the hymn “Come, thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy grace;” She glanced at the man and saw that he had tears in his eyes. She asked, “Sir, is something wrong?” He said, “My name is Robert Robinson. I wrote that song and presently I’m a miserable man who would give anything in the world to have now the joy in my heart that I had then.”
On researching this hymn writer, I couldn’t find much information about him apart from a few facts; he was a preacher, a pastor and a writer of beautiful hymns. He knew from personal experience the importance of staying in the centre of the Potter’s wheel. He wrote these words describing himself:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Take my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.
May we remain ever in the centre of The Potter’s wheel, willingly moulded and shaped by Him, trusting Him – even when the pressure feels uncomfortable or too much – knowing that His skilled hands know exactly where and when to apply apply exactly the right pressure to shape us into beautiful vessels to be used for His purposes. No one knows you better than the one who formed you.