Clay in the Potter’s Hand in 2020 – Part 3

 In Spiritual Awakening

DG Blog #31

10/2/20

There is a message at the potter’s house for us, as well. We don’t want to see ourselves as lumps of clay. Our sin nature makes us loathe seeing ourselves as “creatures.” We think of ourselves, instead, as self-made men and women. But the problem with self-made men and women is that they tend to worship their creator—self. The Bible keeps reminding us who our real Creator is. It teaches us to say, “It is he that has made us and not we ourselves.”[1]

Several other passages in the Bible use imagery of the potter and clay. Some focus on God’s rights as our maker. God has the right to make us whatever he pleases.

You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me?” Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing?”[2]

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?”

But we do talk back to God like that, don’t we?

What are you doing to me? Why are you putting me through this? You can imagine a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel saying, “Stop, that hurts! Don’t push me around! You’re squeezing me!” If you left it up to the lump of clay, it would choose to stay a lump of clay.[3]

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis imagines what would happen if works of art were conscious beings. An oil painting might see an artist toss off a little pencil sketch and be jealous because the artist never bothers the small sketch. But every day, the artist comes back to the oil painting, scraping here, adding another layer there, constantly reworking it. The oil painting wishes to have the easier life of the sketch. But which does the artist love more? And which of the two creations will turn out to be more beautiful?

The pain that we experience as disciples, and the circumstances we face, are the fingers of the potter’s hand pressing into our stiff clay, remaking us into the vessel God wants us to be. Some things that we think are going to destroy us at the time turn out to be God’s hands taking a misshapen vessel and collapsing it into a lump of clay so he can start over again.

The truth is, we would never change if bad things didn’t happen to us. We’d never grow up if our surroundings stayed the same, and we’d never learn to depend on God. The wisdom we gain with age lets us see how God uses circumstances throughout our lives to shape us. Even in the bad things that happen, God works it out to our good. We can see how sickness, loss, and enduring cruelty at the hands of another produces some good in the end. We can say as Joseph did to his brothers, “What you intended for harm, God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”[4]

God is at work in your circumstances right now. You are being shaped. Paul says it beautifully in his letter to the Corinthians, “We are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory.”[5] And just a few verses later, he says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”[6] Through all of that, we’re being transformed. We’re being hard-pressed and shaped into vessels of honor for his use.

As freewill agents, however, we differ from clay. We have the ability to resist having the lumps and bubbles worked out of us. And the more we wobble and fight the potter’s hands, the harder the potter has to press down on the clay—i.e., more of God’s judgment comes into play. But when we allow God to mold us into the person he wants us to be, the more useful our lives become, and the more beautiful the pots we are. “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” When we trust Christ, he gives us a new life. It isn’t an extension of our old, marred self, but a new life; a life of being changed, shaped, and molded to become more and more like Jesus. The person God intends us to be. And with all the pressure and challenges experienced so far in 2020, the potter must be creating some fantastic works of art!

Grace and Peace!

[1] Psalm 100:3

[2] Isaiah 29:16

[3] Isaiah 45:9 (NLT)

[4] Genesis 50:20

[5] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[6] 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

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