Clay in the Potter’s Hand in 2020 – Part 1

 In Spiritual Awakening

DG Blog #29

9/18/20

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.[1]

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.[2]

During my high school years, I spent some time working with clay on a potter’s wheel in an art class. We first prepared the clay by cutting it with a string to check for air bubbles, and then we pounded and kneaded it to make it soft. We then sponged the removable disc with water (that sits in the wheel) and threw down the clay on the exact center of the disc so it would stick and not fly off. That’s where the fun began.

Here’s the next process. First, you get your hands wet and the clay soggy for better flexibility—that way the piece won’t pull off the wheel. With the wheel spinning at high speed, you cup your hands around the lump of clay. Because it will wobble on the disc, you have to apply pressure until the clay forms to the center of the wheel and becomes “one” with your hands. Now you begin to shape the clay into a pot.

As the wheel spins, you keep your elbows locked in and steady; then you stick your finger in the center of the swirling clay. You apply pressure with your fingers within and outside the walls to bring the clay upward. Next you slow the wheel down and begin to shape the pot—inside/out for the belly, and outside/in for the neck and mouth. Finally, you apply a wooden knife to the spinning vessel, scrape away the excess clay, and then trim and shape. If you want, while the wheel is still spinning, you can add a design. Once that is finished, you level the top of the mouth. Now that your piece is done, you stop the wheel, remove the disc attached to your pot, and set it aside to dry. How does this apply to our 2020 experience? Consider these Scriptures:

Then the word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah]: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”[3]

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.[4]                                                                                                               Paul, the apostle

Let’s say we all began this year thinking we were a pretty good-looking lump of clay on the potter’s wheel. But from the potter’s point of view, not even close to the shape he intended for you—i.e., a vessel made useful enough to pour into another vessel. So then COVID hit and the collateral damage it produced on so many fronts that affected us. Can God apply that pressure to our “process” on his wheel? Has any of it changed the shape you were in on the wheel in January? Absolutely.

God used these things like a potter, sticking his finger into your spiritual core to shape you from the inside out, building you into a straight and fortified vessel. But don’t be in a hurry to get off the wheel of 2020. God may not be done with us, yet. He might have a different shape in mind than the shape we think we should be. If he’s not done, then the wheel needs to keep spinning to finish his work. That means more change is coming. Change required in the “process” of his creation. Change is inevitable. Not because time marches on, not because everything decays, but because God is always at work, transforming us from glory to glory.

It has been attributed to Mark Twain and quoted by others that, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” I think most of us can agree with that statement. The changes we’ve experienced this year have been hard. Change comes by pressure. Change comes from being pushed on and pulled on within and without. Change is the purpose behind every message in God’s kingdom. Through the washing of the water of the Word of God, we are changed. There is no command from God that says, “Stay the way you are.” Only God doesn’t need to change. “I am the Lord, I change not.”[5] But the rest of us…well…we’re still in the grip of his hands, as pliable forms of wet clay on the potter’s wheel of 2020.

Grace and Peace!

[1] Jeremiah 18:1-4

[2] Isaiah 64:8

[3] Jeremiah 18:5-6

[4] 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

[5] Malachi 3:6

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