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Changing Paths: Part 5

September 8, 2012

Part 3 of this series spoke of God, the Almighty Creator, likened to a potter who reshapes us, his vessels, in order to eliminate flaws. I imagine God looking down, assessing my current circumstances, and making gentle adjustments with strong, graceful hands.

In reality, there are times when I am thrown down, returned to a formless lump, with no clear understanding of God’s intentions. The hard truth is that I’m not as close to perfection as I’d like to think. Or, I reassure myself, my situation calls for drastic changes, through no fault of my own but in accordance to God’s greater plans. When in the thick of it, resistance is futile; independent efforts fail. I’ve got to go with the flow.

Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” (Isaiah 45:9)

Helplessly submitting to the will of God is hard, especially when I have no clear idea of his intentions. However, this may be the purest form of worship – acknowledging that God is God. It is not for me to spring forth, creating myself, defining my role in God’s kingdom. I am not a self-made woman; I am God’s creation.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

And on those occasions when I’m tempted to question why I’m on one path, and she’s on another, or wishing I could be more like him, whose skills I so admire, I have to trust God’s righteousness.

It doesn’t depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)

I can object, but my doubt reflects a lack of faith in God’s wisdom.

“We shake a fist at heaven, crying out, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ but who are we to talk back to God? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:20-21)

In this situation, perhaps facing a fork in the road or seeking a different path, when our future is uncertain, we are called to act on our faith by not taking action. Instead, we must passively submit, pliant and compliant, allowing ourselves to be shaped, spending time in meditation and reflection, searching for God, listening for his quiet voice and sensing his confident hands.

“Body, soul, and spirit, I present myself to thee as a piece of clay, to be fashioned into anything thy love and wisdom shall choose.” From The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith

Father, Let thy will be done. Amen.

Photo credit: Casandra Hart at work, photo by Devin Bruner

  1. Bernie Davies permalink

    I didn’t to read part 5 until after I had read part 6. There are some lovely illustrations contained therein. First, our typical image of a potter is throwing clay on a wheel to make a bowl, cup or plate. But most people equate being able to shape a lump of clay with the definition of a skilled potter. Yet the key step happens before the vessel is shaped. The lump of clay has to be centered on the wheel. It has to be stuck (literally) right smack dab in the exact center. It has to stay in the center of the potters wheel in order to become a vessel fit for use. If it is not then it is out of balance and the potter probably cannot manage to shape it for use. Are we allowing the potter to stick us in the center of His wheel, to make us and mold us?

    When I noticed the hands in the picture I thought of how the potter wants to raise us up to be able to create more vessels for His purpose. But, again, are we willing to get our hands dirty and worn out from shaping formless clay? Notice closely her fingernails. Down to her quick and underneath the surface is where the clay ends up. We are under the fingernails of God. Our essence has become one with Him as much as His essence is formed in us.

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