But Lord, You are our father. We are like clay, and You are the potter; Your hands made us all (Isaiah 64:8, NCV).
Friend to Friend
When our daughter was in pre-school, one of her favorite activities was playing with clay. Danna often pulled her little step stool over to the closet where the clay was stored and almost ceremoniously hauled out the boxes of brightly colored clay. It was like watching a commissioned artist prepare his canvas for the beauty it was about to receive. With great concentration and effort, Danna’s little fingers pried open each box. She then thoughtfully and deliberately chose several lumps of clay and then lined them up on the kitchen table where, with the seriousness of an experienced artist, she began to work.
For hours at a time, I would hear Danna singing while pounding, molding, stretching, and creating her unique clay world. Animals, people, flowers, and aliens emerged from the lumps of clay. When she was satisfied that her work was done, Danna announced it was time to “put them up.” Translation: it was time to exhibit her clay masterpieces for her dad and brother to see when they came home. Danna met Dan and Jered at the door, took their hands, and escorted them to see her works of art. Then she waited for Dan and Jered to offer the mandatory “oohs” and “aahs” while applauding the artist who created them.
Danna’s designs remained on display until they grew hard and brittle. Together, she and I then broke each creation apart, generously sprinkled every piece with water, and placed them back in their containers, allowing the clay to soften until she had another project in mind.
When it comes to spiritual matters, God is the Potter, the Creator, and we are the clay. Like Danna with her creations, He uses the circumstances of our lives to pound, mold, stretch, and shape us according to His vision alone.
God used the relationship between a potter and his clay to illustrate to the prophet Jeremiah His sovereignty and how He works in the lives of His children to accomplish His perfect plan:
“So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the Word of the Lord came to me: ‘Can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand’” (Jeremiah 18:3-6).
Just as in the days of Jeremiah, God still longs for His children to find and live out His mind-blowing plan for our lives—a plan that is far beyond anything we can possibly imagine or conceive on our own. And just as the children of Israel rebelled against God’s plan, we tend to doubt His heart and think our frail human plans are better. We sometimes willingly submit to the gentle pressure of the Potter’s hands, and other times, we dig in our heels and refuse to budge. Jeremiah understood that God was the Potter and had total control over the shape of the clay. “Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?” (Isaiah 29:16). Of course not, but we often forget that truth. How foolish it would be for the clay to grumble or rebel, but we do! Still, the Potter is faithful and so patient as He continues to mold the clay. If the clay begins to harden in its unfinished state, the Potter loves the clay enough to let it be crushed by the pressures of life. He then sprinkles it with the replenishing water of His presence and power and begins to mold His creation again. The potter never tires of His work, and He never gives up on the potential that was lovingly tucked into our very being from the moment we were conceived in the heart and mind of God.
Because God is a loving father who is more committed to our character than He is to our comfort, godly discipline must often come into play. Although God has the ability to directly give us understanding, His usual teaching method involves more of a “hands on” approach. We gain wisdom as God teaches us His Word and then follows through with application in our daily lives.
The only way for us to become all God desires us to be is to remain pliable in the Potter’s hands. When we try to shape ourselves, we fail miserably and often settle for so much less than God has in mind. The Potter wants to create something eternally beautiful. In fact, He wants to make us more like His Son, Jesus!
If we could only trust that His shaping is so much better than anything we could ever create! But in our pride, we honestly think we can do better. The world says we should never give up our rights because if we do, we will lose everything. God says if we surrender all to Him, we will gain everything that is eternally important.
All of us have rough edges that need to be removed. We may even need to be broken and crushed so the Potter’s masterful hands can begin again. I have been there many times and can honestly look back and say that the beauty God eventually brought forth was worth the pain.
Total surrender demands that we place ourselves in the Potter’s hands with no agenda, no pre-set conditions—giving Him permission to bend us, break us, and change us. As we give up control to Him, like a Master Craftsman He begins to work patiently and lovingly, with a specific plan and one-of-a-kind design in mind. He works through circumstances as well as people, through joy and pain, victory and defeat. He filters every part of our circumstances through His plan, to create in us a life of worth and meaning and purpose.
When we try to direct our lives according to our own agendas and plans, we experience only discontent and frustration. Our soul longs for more and our heart cries out, “Is this all there is?” The truth is that nothing and no one but God can bring us the peace and joy for which we are searching. Are you ready to become the clay and surrender your broken life to the Potter’s loving hands? Today is the day!
Lord, I am tired of trying to live life in my own power. I come to You as the Potter. I am the clay. Right now, I give up and surrender my life completely to You. I choose Your plan over mine. I give You permission to mold me and make me what You want me to be. I will wait before You and seek Your direction. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What has been the plan – according to you – for your life up to this point?
What kind of results has that plan produced? Are you satisfied with those results?
Write a prayer of surrender to God and record it in your journal. Be sure to include the following steps:
- Recognize that you have been trying to live life according to your plan – your agenda.
- Admit that your refusal to surrender your life to God has brought only frustration and emptiness.
- Right now – surrender to God.
- What one of the following actions do you need to take in order to obey God?
_____Join a local church
_____Get involved in a small group or Bible study
_____Read the Bible daily
_____Seek God in everything I do
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible study, Light for the Journey, for practical ways to tap into the power of God’s Word. The first study of 2013 is Power Up With Proverbs, and since each lesson stands alone, it’s not too late to join.
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