The potter’s hand
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)
In my early years at secondary school I sometimes had to do pottery, taking a lump of clay, kneading and shaping it to try and make pots and other items. It’s not something I was ever very good at, but there’s someone else whose pottery skills are infinitely better. God uses the idea of making pottery as a metaphor for the way He works with us as His children. Back in Genesis God shaped Adam out of the dust of the ground, and He is still shaping His creations today.
As the header scripture says, God is the potter and we are the clay. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s ‘workmanship’. Some translations even say ‘masterpiece’. By faith, Jesus comes to live in us through the Holy Spirit, and we become new creations with whom God is working. Philippians 2:13 says, ‘for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.’ God wants us to invite Him into our lives, to allow Him to mould and shape us as He pleases. As a potter He wants to turn us – dirty, limp lumps of clay – into beautiful objects.
Let’s consider four things about working with clay:
- You have to start by kneading, squeezing, even hitting clay to make it supple and workable. And sometimes God has to confront us, wake us up, to make us humble, malleable and teachable. In trials, difficulties and inspiring situations, God prepares us to respond to Him.
- When working with clay you have to add water from time to time to keep it soft. And God washes us with His water, the Holy Spirit.
- Once softened up, clay doesn’t resist being worked by the potter. It doesn’t answer back or jump back to its original shape. God isn’t expecting us to change ourselves to measure up to a fixed specification; rather He wants us to allow Him to shape us as He wills. If God wants us to be a bowl, we shouldn’t try to turn ourselves into a plate or cup. Isaiah 45:9 says, “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker…Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’”
- Every piece of pottery is individual and unique. They have different shapes and sizes, different imperfections smoothed away, different decorative patterns and colours of glaze. Each piece is individually and lovingly crafted with the potter’s own hands. And that’s what God does with us. In His perfect love and infinite creativity, He works individually in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, from the inside out, to produce His masterpieces.
So let’s allow God, the great master potter, to work with us and shape us. Let’s listen to Him and allow Him, through other Christians and the experiences we have, to refine us, change our hearts and conform us ever more closely to Jesus Christ.
Father in heaven, help us to trust You as the great master potter, to mould and shape us as your new creations in accordance with your perfect will, so that we may be conformed ever more closely to the image of Jesus Christ. In his name we pray,
Study by Simon Williams
About the writer:
Simon Williams attends the Cambridgeshire congregation of Grace Communion International.
Grace Communion Church Cambridgeshire
Farcet Village Hall
Except on the first Saturday of each month at Comberton, Cambridge 2:00 pm
Comberton Village Hall
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