The Potter & the Clay

Have you ever become frustrated that all your attempts to be a certain type of person have come to nothing? Perhaps you should stop trying so hard because it isn’t going to work! Why? Have you heard the song, “Change my heart, O Lord”? The chorus goes: “You are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me; this is what I pray.” This prayer comes from the prophet Isaiah’s words: “You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).

We sing this song because it contains a profound truth. God is the potter; we are the clay. God is the one who shapes us. If we try to shape ourselves, we accomplish nothing except going potty. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that, but it is true. We can go crazy trying to shape ourselves into the image and likeness of Christ, which is the pot we need to resemble. We need to leave the work of making the pot to the potter. That’s his job.

Now consider how a potter works. To begin, he needs clay. He doesn’t buy it from the local hardware store; he digs it up from the ground. Obviously, there will be many impurities in the clay. Does the potter get angry when he finds these impurities? No, he expects to find them and removes them patiently. He repeatedly sifts through the clay, looking for the finer impurities in the soil he had missed until the clay is pure enough for him to work with.

He then mixes water into the clay to make it into a smooth paste and slaps it onto a spinning wheel. As the wheel spins, the potter’s fingers probe for any remaining impurities in the clay. Then, once he has fashioned the pot, he leaves it to dry. Once it has dried completely, it must be fired to achieve permanency. Without the chemical transformation that occurs through firing — this means putting it through a fire — a pot dissolves back into mud if it comes in contact with water. During this firing process, the pot is heated to the point where the clay reaches its optimal melting point. And then, the pot is painted, dried, and ready for use.

I hope you found the pottery lesson interesting because it illustrates us and our faith journey. Do you see the similarities? We are the clay in God’s hands. It can be painful for us—all that probing, spinning, and firing, which are metaphors for the suffering, disappointments, and other pruning we go through in life—but in the end, we become what God created us to be. Or pretty close to it. Isn’t that worth the pain?

So, bear the pain and let God do what he has to do. You’ll thank him for it in time.

God bless you.