September 20, 2011 by Beth Hess
Somewhere around April of this year, I began to have the sense that years from now I would look back at 2011 and KNOW that this was a turning point for me. For what, in full, I am still not sure. But I AM sure that God is molding me in a new way. That I am allowing God to mold me in a new way. That I have taken my position as clay in the hands of a Master Potter. I know not yet what He is forming. But I trust His hands. They are firm, but gentle. Loving. Tender. Never leaving me even though the stretches and pulls and the throwing down again on the wheel. He knows just when to add the water — and how much — leaving me neither dry nor muddy.
Yes, I am curious … what is He making? From the wheel I can see around His shop so many other pieces. Most of which, to my eye, look already finished. Beautiful in their complexity, but some in their simplicity. Different Sizes. Different Shapes. Different Colors. Different Purposes.
I sometimes hope I get to be one thing or the other — feeling if He makes me a flower vase I will be more valuable than if I am a paperweight. Or worse, an ashtray. I want to be a chalice, not an everyday, pedestrian mug. I want to have vibrant, swirling, breathtaking colors like nothing the world has ever seen before. But I notice most of the Master’s pieces are more ordinary in decoration. More modest in function. Each with at least one very special detail — but not at all what one would consider flashy or awesome.
From the wheel I can also see pieces that look like mistakes. Unfinished. Objects that do not have an obvious purpose. I don’t know what they are — but it seems the Potter does. He moves them around and cleans and cares for them just as He does all the others. I cannot see the value the Potter sees. Maybe it’s just the angle from down here on the wheel?
I can see the other potter wheels around me — other lumps of clay in various stages of shape. Some have been here much longer than I, and others make it to the shelf before me even though they were started after. And that hardly seems fair. When will I be finished?
I hope soon — but certainly not right now. I look a mess and I don’t even know what I am yet. Well, at least I’m not as much trouble to the Potter as that other lump. He’s been warped, smashed, and re-balled more times than I can count. He won’t stand up straight and cracks under the smallest pressure. What in the world will he ever be good for? And why does the Potter spend time on him anyway. I’m here. I want to be something now!
Just stop here, Master! Whatever I am now, that should be good enough, right? I don’t know, and I really don’t care, if this is what you intended me to be in the end. But I’m tired of the molding. I’m tired of the waiting.
I am fully aware there is a fire in my future — every piece of pottery has to face it to be finished. So let’s just get on with it. This is close enough to whatever you were creating. Ok, maybe not as pretty or as useful as some — but certainly not the most useless either.
Isn’t this good enough??
The Master Potter is not angered by my tirade. He does not call me a child or scold my words. He gets right down on His knees, level with my wheel, puts His hands on my face and speaks softly.
“My dear child — I know the shaping is uncomfortable. But your walls are still too thick and your base too weak. If I put you in the fire now, the fire will have to be hotter and you will have to stay in there longer to cure the clay all the way to the center. And you’re likely to fall over and be more exposed to the hottest of surfaces instead of standing strong and letting the heat move around your without so much direct contact. And I haven’t even applied your glaze, the magic layer that goes into the fire transparent and comes out brilliant, shiny, and protective of all the frailness you’ll still have inside.
“Let me finish. There will still be fire. But my hands will be there, too — shielding you from the harshest heat and making sure the fire hits only the spots absolutely necessary and for only exactly as long as necessary to make you shine. Just as my hand covered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, so my hands will cover you.
“You like the image of being in my hands when it means safety and protection. Like you would hold a newborn chick — all fuzzy and cute and warm. But being in my hands also means being shaped. Molded. Perfected in my image.
“You can trust these hands because they are nail-scarred. I did that for you. I allowed my hands to be broken, bloody, pierced and tattered, secured to a cross — all so you could get to me at all. So you could get access to my hands. For ALL the purposes for which I intend.
“To point you on the right path. To stop you from harm. To pat you on the back. To pick you up when you fall. To hold you secure. To mold you as clay. To clap in your rejoicing. To draw you near when I want you close. To tap you on the shoulder and remind you of my presence. To rub your back when you aren’t feeling well. To hold your hand as we walk together. To tickle your fancy. To turn to head. To tussle your hair. To lift your head.
“Oh, my child. You are right to say that you trust my hands. Now let me get back to work.”