THE POTTER AND THE CLAY
By Glenda Ward
“The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
In Biblical days, back in the Old Testament, the people had one kind of container that served a host of purposes: it was a clay jar or pots. If they needed a different size, they simply made or purchased the size clay jar or pot needed. All were made of the same material dirt (clay), and water. The image of a potter and clay is recorded frequently in Scripture beginning in Genesis 1:7. God actually shaped and made Adam from the clay (dirt), the dust of the earth and breathed life into him. Adam became a living soul being a human.
Look at the Scripture, 2 Corinthians 4:7. Paul referred to our bodies as earthen vessels, made of the earth, shaped and molded similarly as a clay vessel may be shaped and molded. We are the clay in the hands of the Potter, acknowledging God’s handiwork as the Master Potter, creator of our physical body. It is the authority of God to shape us inwardly, to spiritually fashion us into a vessel to be fit for His use in our servanthood and discipleship to His Glory. God wants to form us to be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and fit for our Master’s use, and prepared for His good work (Reference 2 Timothy 2:21; also read Job 10:9 and Isaiah 29:16, 45:9). God is the Divine Potter and humanity is the clay. An expression of God’s Sovereignty over all people and our need to yield to His divine plan to find a purpose for which we have been made.
Our life rests in God’s hands! Like a skilled potter, God knows how to apply accurately the pressure, when to relax His grip, how to embrace and push gently – all of which gets our attention and increases our fitness as a vessel for His use. At times God, our Master Potter, places us in the kiln or furnace where the fires of life turn us into stronger vessels. God permits trials in life as a tool in the skillful hands of our Master Potter to mature, develop, and conform us into the image of Christ according to His purpose and plan (Reference Romans 8:28-29).
God, who is our Heavenly Father, uses the events we encounter each day as tools to shape and sculpt our life, to deepen our faith, to develop within us a quality of perseverance, and to make us containers of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; which is, in reality, the fruit of the Spirit (Reference Galatians 5:22-23). Experiencing pressure, we can visualize the skillful hands of our Divine Potter using it for the good in life. Trusting our life to God, we can echo the prayer of Isaiah: 64:8; “But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our Potter; and we are the work of thy hand.”
A Potter retrieves clay usually from a clay bank which sometimes is enclosed or covered with a structure. The bank is dirty, dark and smelly. In Bible times the potter felt for the right consistency of clay to be used with great care. He didn’t just take any clay. He spent a great deal of time choosing the exact clay he wanted. Think of the time this took and the dirt he had to sift through to find the clay. Now think of the horrible pit from which we were drawn when our Master Potter came looking for us, He found us filthy with our sins. “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalms 40:2). God had to exercise endless love and patience with many of us as we resisted His Spirit’s call to Salvation. His grace and mercy extended down into that horrible pit and gave us the gift of Salvation. He didn’t turn away from the dirty, sinful place where He found us!
With infinite care, the potter kneads and molds the clay. He searches out and removes any impurities. This reminds us of our spiritual lives. God turns the spotlight of His Holy Spirit on our lives and points out areas of impurities that need to be removed. The process can be painful but is necessary for us to be useful to God’s service. We must be open and receptive to the Holy Spirit as He instructs us in areas we need to remove from our life. (Reference John 14:21, 23-24). Only as we surrender to God and allow Him to clean out the impurities from our lives will we become vessels fit for our Master’s use.
The potter forms the clay as he begins to turn it. As the lump spins on the potter’s wheel his hands shape the clay. As the potter works the clay, he may push it down and start over. He will do this until the vessel is formed to his liking. And sometimes the potter will completely change direction and make the vessel quite different from what he started to make. The potter may take the broken piece of clay and make an exquisite vessel from it. As the masterpiece is finished, he looks upon it with great pleasure.
Sometimes we know the area God (the Potter) is trying to change in our lives, but because of our stubbornness, He is not able to make us useful in His service as He would like. We need to allow God’s Spirit to work and shape our lives. We need to develop a sensitivity to the Spirit’s voice in our lives. We need to listen for His direction and obey Him when He instructs us in His Will. God is a specialist in taking broken, ruined clay vessels and making precious vessels out of them. The secret lies in our confession, repentance, and submission to Him.
After the potter is finished the unfired vessel is placed on a shelf for drying. The vessel will break and be useless if it is fired before it has properly dried. In relation, sometimes we experience times of dryness in our spiritual lives. God can use these times to prepare us for greater service. It is important we rest and keep pursuing God’s Will. If we persist, God can use our dry times to build maturity into us and increase our usefulness to Him. We should be patient and look forward too many wonderful blessings being prepared for us in our eternal life.
Today some of us are in God’s furnace filled with trial and heartache. But God, the Master Potter, is perfecting and refining you into a beautiful vessel. (Reference 1 Corinthians 10:13). Allow Him to wrap His arms of comfort around you, as we all should, and lean on His everlasting arms of His mercy allowing Him to make you a vessel fit for His use. (Reference Isaiah 40:31).
After the firing of the vessel, it is ready for use. The potter makes the vessel as he sees fit. The clay that yields to the potter’s touch brings happiness and satisfaction, a source of joy to the potter. Just as those of us that yield to God allowing Him to cleanse the impurities from our lives, and surrender to His Will, will be a source of joy and pleasure to our Master Potter. God, the Master Potter, is calling each of us to yield to Him so He can shape us into beautiful vessels to be used in His Kingdom.
For we are a chosen potter’s vessel unto God, a vessel made unto honor, sanctified and made worthy of God’s use. We are prepared by God that we may be thoroughly furnished to do His good works. Our wounds are healed and become scars that tell a story.
Glenda Ward is a member of Grand View Baptist Church in McDowell County. She is the mother of five grown children. Glenda is a Christian writer/author of “Something to Think About” – weekly Christian Articles. She writes Church Programs & Bulletins, VBS Material, Christmas and Easter Programs; all material based on the KJV of the Bible. Also testing the field in tributes, individual memorial writings, etc.