I used to enjoy going to pottery classes, though I never became much good at it, but it was satisfying to “have a go”. To begin with the clay has to be wedged, that is to turn it and pummel it, rather like kneading bread, until all the air has been forced out of it, and to check for any impurities like little pieces of grit, as these would cause the pot to explode during the firing process. Then it has to be centred on the wheel, as a lump of clay off-centre would fly off the wheel as soon as the wheel began to turn. Once it is properly centred, the potter carefully shapes the pot, drawing it up and guiding it into the shape he wants. It takes a great deal of gentle strength to do this and steady hands: if you pull too hard the clay will break and if you don’t pull hard enough the clay will stay where it is. All the time, the clay has to be kept moist because if it becomes dry it sticks against your fingers. It also has to be kept centred or it will go out of control.
Once the pot has been formed to the potter’s satisfaction it can be taken off the wheel and left to dry, before it goes into the kiln for the first firing. Then comes the exciting part; decorating the pot with your chosen design, and at last, the final glaze before it goes into the kiln for a second time before becoming a finished pot.
Discipling can be a little like this process, as Jeremiah noted. As clay in the Master Potter’s hands we need to be refined and have all the impurities removed, which can be a painful process. Then we need to be firmly centred in the Word of God so that we won’t be knocked off balance when the times of trial and difficulties come. It only needs the pot to be a little off-centre when the wheel is turning for there to be a disaster. How many of us get knocked off-centre when troubles come because we are not firmly trusting in God’s eternal word? If we haven’t allowed Him to deal with the impurities, we may not survive the firing process. Sometimes people who come for ministry allow God to go just so far, but are not prepared to trust Him to deal with the really deep issues, believing that they can manage them themselves.
Our Master Potter knows what He is doing when He forms and shapes us. He knows exactly how to deal with the painful issues in our lives if we will trust Him, and He will refine us and turn us into the “pot” He had in His mind from the creation of the world.
Prayer: Father God, it is sometimes painful when You refine and reshape me, but please help me to understand and grow in the form that You planned for me from the beginning, and may I display the treasure within my earthen vessel: Your power and glory, Amen.
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