If you have been a Christian for a while, you know that God is sometimes referred to as The Potter, and we are the clay in His hands.  The lyrics to the hymn Spirit of the Living God come to mind.  “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.”  We are to be clay in God’s hands.  I read a devotional this morning that stressed how pliable clay is.  Clay doesn’t do anything to become what the Potter desires, but sit there and be formed.  (Check out Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day by Day, January 7th.)

But something came to my remembrance as I read that today.  I don’t consider myself artistic, so don’t get all excited when I say this.  I took a semester or two of ceramics (clay art) in college.  I loved it!  I was close to pathetic in my artistry, but I did manage to come out with functional pieces at least.  In fact, I loved it so much that a few years ago I bought a homemade pottery wheel.  It still needs to be re-built, but throwing a few clay pots is high on my bucket list!  Unless you have actually worked with clay on a pottery wheel, you may not know that one has to beat the snot out of the clay before you can mold it into anything solid and functional.  Clay naturally has a lot of air pockets.  One of the funnest parts about working with clay, in my mind anyway, is when you take a big slab, slice it in two using a wire stretched taught over a cloth-covered table, and then slam, and I mean slam, one half down on the table, and slam the other piece onto the first.  Doing that three times is a good general rule to beat out the air pockets so that your clay will be solid when you work with it.  The end product will hold up much better to stress without all those tiny little wholes created by the air pockets.  In short, beating the clay first reduces the weakness of the end vessel.

Now something tells me that God knew this when He made this analogy!  I have often heard Christians talk about going through the fire, referring of course to the refiner’s fire, the tests that God uses to purify His people.  Being clay, molded and shaped in careful, loving hands, seemed somehow softer, easier.  I liked that picture better.  Kind of hoped that I’d be clay and not silver or gold in the fire.  But now I cringe a little as I can still picture those slamming slabs of clay.  At the same time I know that in the right hands, a strategically slammed, and masterfully molded piece of clay can be made into not only something of true beauty, but a vessel to be used by it’s maker, the Potter, for good work.  And in the end, to, who will get the praise for what the vessel accomplishes?  Certainly not the vessel!  But the Potter!  It really is the perfect set up!  I get to be something of beauty and worth, and at the same time humbly bring praise to my maker.  I think I’ll take it.  Mold me and shape me.  Fill me and use me…for Your glory, dear Lord.

Jeremiah 18:2-6 (NKJV):   “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.”  Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.  Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:  “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”