The Potter and the Clay

My friend Jessica recently started taking a pottery class. When she told me about it, I was impressed and a little jealous by her boldness and independence to take on a class without recruiting her friends to accompany her. I, on the other hand, can’t even join a Yoga session without begging everyone around me to keep me company. But that’s another psychological issue for a later blog post.

To be blunt, lately, I’ve been intentionally putting on my blinders as if I don’t really want to notice that people around me are struggling and dealing with all kinds of junk in their lives. I’ve allowed myself to live in a land of laziness and in this land, all I seem to care about are my sweatpants, eating macaroni and cheese and watching episodes of new television shows. But, in the last couple days I feel like I’ve been starting to wake up from this funk and the more I do, the more I see how much me and my friends are living in a constant struggle trying to figure out just what exactly the Potter is up to.

A few months ago when I was dealing with some significant changes in my life, I stumbled upon a podcast by a pastor I had never heard of before, speaking on the message of the Potter and the Clay. It is, to date, one of the most impactful messages that has touched my heart.

So that’s the inspiration behind this post.

Do you ever feel like worthless dust? I promise I’m not going to break out into a Katy Perry song. But let me ask you, in those moments, do you feel like you’re not living up to your potential, that life is mundane and honestly, just overall blah? I feel like that all the time. If God is the Potter, I know what kind of clay I am. I’m the stubborn, hard to mold clay and the more the Potter tries to shape me into something magnificent on the wheel, the more I resist. It’s like I’m using all sorts of forces of my own to shape myself into what I think looks the best.

Sometimes, we as clay mistake ourselves out to be the potter. We become a little too liberal with our freedom and entitlements and so, instead of realizing that we are the worthless slab of mud on a potter’s wheel, we arrogantly claim our lives as the potter. I think that’s why sometimes when our Heavenly Potter comes in to shape us and fix our imperfections, it hurts and we resist it. What we don’t realize is that the potter knows his clay. He knows how to mold the ones that are too rough, he knows how to strengthen the ones that are too mushy and before he even begins the process of building something out of this clay, he already has a plan. I’m not an expert at potter’s, but I really don’t think any professional potter’s sit down at the wheel and start messing with the clay thinking, “well let’s just wing it, maybe it’ll be a good bowl or a good pitcher, but only time will tell!” In the same way, while we as mere clay have no idea what God has in store for us, He does. He knows exactly what the final product is going to look like even before He begins.

One of my favorite parts in the sermon is when the pastor talks about watching an actual potter at work. You look at their creation and it looks absolutely breathtaking. But before he cuts it loose, he starts to slowly observe every intricate detail of the clay and if a potter sees even the slightest of air bubbles or blemishes, he’ll destroy the entire creation.

These are the moments that me, as the clay, gets angry. “I was doing just fine!” I’ll yell with my fist pumping in the air. “If you just let me try, I’ll show you. I have it under control!” But the potter sees the dangers of these little imperfections. A potter knows that these little things can lead to bigger problems – like a crack in the final product or worse, an explosion when it goes into the fire. You see, a good potter knows that it is far more worthwhile to start all over again than to let his precious creation fall victim to the flame.

I hope you see what I’m trying to get at here. You and me, we’re restless, all of us. This wheel we are on is spinning and it sucks and we look for answers and it all just seems extremely futile. Then, with no warning, things start to change, our hearts get broken, friends betray us and everything starts to fall apart. We demand answers. We need it so desperately because this can’t be part of the plan, it just can’t! Can you imagine? Clay demanding answers from the potter! But our Potter isn’t intimidated by our threats. He knows that we are at our best in His hands and however painful it is right now, He’s preparing us for the fire and He wants us to be strong, able and ready.

When Jessica was telling me about her pottery class she told me it was really difficult at first. You see, the class began with making cups and her cups were coming out all lopsided and funny looking. It was frustrating and she didn’t want to keep going back. But she did. Eventually they moved on to bowls. She came back to me and said, “Turns out, I’m pretty good at making bowls. All my cups wanted to be bowls and so my bowls look pretty great!”

Clay is worthless dust and the value of clay isn’t defined by itself. Think about it, if I handed you a bag of clay you would look at me and say, “Seriously? Is this a joke?” Like I said, the value of clay isn’t defined by itself, but the potter, the creator, is the one who puts value to it. When we let the Potter take control – instead of forcing ourselves to mold into something we’re not – we don’t come out to be average looking cups. No. When we allow ourselves to be molded by the famous Potter, the one that makes the most priceless of creations out of worthless dust, we start to become something magnificent. You see, our God, our Potter, He only makes masterpieces.


To listen to the full, awesome sermon of Pastor Pieree du Plessis of The Father’s House in Rochester, NY, go here.

Photo Credit: Jessica Chan

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