The clay is an amazing thing that has transformed the human society in so many ways, although in the modern society we may not see much of it. It is one of those things that revolutionized the early society as early humans discovered its ability to be formed into different shapes and its characteristics to gain the strength once it is heated in an oven. Whether it be for making pots for utensils or to build homes and other artifacts needed for survival. And clay was also later used by artists as a media to express their works of arts. It was not very different how the invention of wheel changed the society or the advent of computers, and smart phones transformed how we work, live and learn.
The Potters wheel – 3000BC
When a pot is formed from the base by hand, it is impossible to make it perfectly round and symmetric. The solution to this problem was the potter’s wheel, which has been a crucial factor in the history of making pottery.
Clay in the Potter’s Hands
In the Bible there are many references where we see an analogy of clay in potter’s hands, where the clay are us humans and God is the Potter.
In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet was asked by God to go “into the potters house” so he could teach him certain things about his plans for Israel.
18 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 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.
Once we commit our lives to Jesus, we are being formed by the skillful hands of God to make us into a vessel that can be used to fulfill his purpose and to help us achieve our goals as per his plan. Let’s us study these verses to see how this applies to our spiritual lives in today’s world.
Why did God want Jeremiah to physically “go to the potters house”?
The most important thing to note here is that God could have shown Jeremiah a vision and conveyed the same message, but instead he asked him to physically go to the potter’s house. God wanted Jeremiah to physically experience the three dimensional views of how clay is formed, the smell, the sounds and ambiance so he could grasp the intensity and depth of the message God wanted to convey to Israelites through Jeremiah. He also wanted Jeremiah to see the expression on the potter’s face, the passion with which he was forming the pot, and how he remakes the pot into a different shape when the pot does not attain the original shape he had intended of it.
What do we learn from this instance that could apply to our spiritual lives?
Soft and Pliable
For clay to be able to be formed into different shapes it has to be soft and pliable. The potter should be able to give certain shape and contours to the pot as he shapes it. As he applies pressure with his deft hands the clay keeps changing shape slowly. During the process sometimes the pot may look meaningless and crude, it may not make sense, but patience and allowing the time needed to form the clay results in a beautiful pot which can be a work of art or a pot to feed many. Like wise we in the the hands of God, sometimes it may not make sense, we may not understand why things are going the way they are, but if God is in control he is forming us and taking us through a process of forming and shaping to help us achieve our goals.
We need to have the humility to listen, and obedience to accept and obey what he brings to us through any means he may want to use. We need to also have the Openness to the word, he may use different means but what he needs is someone he is ready to learn and has their spiritual eyes and ears open.
Don’t be discouraged God is in control, patience and time will show you what God’s intentions were and why. The results will be beautiful and purposeful.
Readiness to be formed
The clay offers itself up to be formed in the potters hands, if the clay is hard and tough it cannot be responsive to the soft pressures the potter puts as he shapes it. The pot cannot achieve the shape and beauty and may even be eventually discarded by the potter.
Be open to the guidance of Holy Spirit, and allow what ever the Lord brings in your life, because It could be a word of advice, encouragement, some things not going the way we want to. Or even us not achieving our goals the way we wanted. Sometimes it can be painful, and yes as the clay gets the pressure from the potter’s hands it is painful, but it is for good. Have the readiness to “allow” whatever the Lord brings in your life, he is looking for someone who is open to his works, not for someone who has the ‘skills”.
Right consistency and free of impurities
For clay to be pliable and have the readiness to be formed, it should have the right level of consistency and should be free of any impurities. The clay needs to be mixed with the right amount of clean water. If the water is too much the clay will become soggy and will not take shape, and on the other hand if it is too less the clay would be hard and crumble in the hands of the potter. And if there are impurities or stones in the clay that becomes a weak spot and a reason for the pot to crack or not take the intended shape and beauty.
The water in clay can be compared to prayer and tears seeking to know God’s will. The impurities can be the hidden sins, which may hinder us in achieving the shape and form he wants us to. Look into your lives and see if you are turning back to God enough and seeking him frequently. And also check on things that may be in your lives which you need to get rid of.
On one hand we need to have the humility God desires of us, but on the other hand we also need to have the strength and courage to withstand the powers of evil forces in our life.
The Potter has a Purpose
The good news is the potter knows the composition of the clay, and has very skillful hands which knows how much pressure to apply, and how to hold and move the fingers as the wheel spins so that the pot takes on a shape he desires.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
God knows us too well, and he knows our limitations, our weaknesses and strengths, and he looks at the longer term and has a vision about you as he forms your life. You just need to “allow” him to do his will in your life.
The Clay Cannot Form Itself
To my surprise I have seen some people stating on their personal website of other forums “I am a self made man”. This is such a lie and those people are really ignorant about themselves although they may feel they “know it all”.
The clay is useless without the potter, and potter has the passion and desire to make something beautiful out of the clay. So the clay cannot form by itself, while yes you have a very important role to play, and have to take certain steps to be formed in the hands of God.