Give a person of any age a lump of clay, and one of a few things will happen.
They’ll roll it into a clay snake or a ball.
Or mush it between fingers and begin to create.
I’ve long been fascinated with pottery. I’ve never had the opportunity to fashion a piece from scratch and have it fired, but my son’s avocation is pottery. He’s been doing it for close to twenty years, and his pieces are beautiful. He uses shapes, textures, colors to take them out of the ordinary into amazing.
Yes, I’m his mom. Biased. A bit. But also very curious about the process of going from wet clay to hardened pot. I learned from him.
First is the clay is thoroughly kneaded so all the air bubbles are forced out. They can cause the piece to weaken and collapse.
One of the tougher parts comes next–centering the clay on the wheel. Clay is uncooperative, so getting it to stay centered for even shaping as the wheel spins is no easy matter. Positioning is important, and potters often wedge their elbows on their legs to get even pressure on both sides so the clay won’t flop out.
Once the clay is centered and the wheel spinning, the potter puts his thumb in the middle and begins to pull out then up, using knuckles to evenly shape the sides of the pot. Slow and deliberate, even pressure. If done too quickly, the pot gets off-center and will need to be mashed to start over again.
If the order of procedure is wrong, the end product is off.
Who knew it was so hard to make a quality pot?
Our team wanted to do something fun and meaningful for the women in our group, and making clay pots was suggested. There’s some wonderful clay-like material that molds well and hardens in the air. We decided to challenge these gals to make pots or whatever suited them out of this clay as a reflection of how they were doing at this point in the year, close to the end of this cycle of participants.
I shared some of what I’d learned from my son. It was an aha moment for all of us.
God is referred to as the Potter; we are His clay. Potters patiently create in clay what they see in their minds. God has created each of us specifically, with a special design in mind, for special purposes. Every one of us a work of art, a masterpiece.
I find I often fight the hand of the Potter. When the pain of His shaping hurts, I want to smack His hand away and tell Him “Enough”. I want to be all He wants me to be, but I don’t want to have to hurt to get there. To put up with the pressure of being shaped. Or worse, being pressed down to begin again. When I fight His work in my life, I throw myself into the off-center position. Turmoil.
God gently recenters me. Which can feel uncomfortable, painful.
He is patient with us, longing for us to be vessels filled with His light and love. If we will see His shaping as an act of love, helping us to grow to who He sees we can be.
How will you respond to God’s shaping?