Most of us know the scriptural references to God as a potter and to humanity as lumps of clay. We even have worship songs written about it.
Actually, The Potters Hand by Darlene Zschech, is one of my personal top five favorite worship songs. It more often than not makes me cry when I sing. It brings about feelings of broken amazement. It is in my list of “Crisis Songs” – the ones I listen to when I am attending to an accident, a traumatic death, or at a disaster site. I have my list of songs for worship, comfort, and as a gentle reminder that I am exactly where He wants me to be and…
who he wants me to be.
“Beautiful Lord, Wonderful Saviour
I know for sure, all of my days are held in your hands, crafted
into your perfect plan…”
I listened to it every morning in Haiti before our training others about PTSD and trauma – before I listened to the painful stories of death, loss, and total destruction. I listened to it at many natural disasters in the USA. I listened to it in the Philippines before I stepped out into the surrounding devastation, and lines of patients waiting to see a midwife, EMT, or doctor. Before I looked into the eyes of hundreds of children who called me Lola – many who were traumatized, lonely, fatherless, hungry, or the poorest of the poor. Beautiful children. Wonderful, happy, loving, children.
Adam was made from the dust of the earth – the first perfect clay vessel, molded and fired by the fingers of God.
I love the thought of God molding a lump of clay like myself into something beyond my limited imagination and comprehension. He is the potter and we are the clay. He does the molding according to His plans and purposes. We rest in His hands as only a lump of clay can. We do not work towards our own making, or mold ourselves.
That is the real miracle of it – He does it all.
We don’t even get our hands dirty in the process. From start to finish, God owns it. (Phil. 1:6)
“You gently call me into your presence guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life through Your eyes…”
Yet, we don’t always rest in His hands and allow Him do the work. We don’t see ourselves or others with His eyes.
We tend to beat ourselves up over all of our many and prominent blemishes, and then throw ourselves face first and headlong into fires of change, and furnaces of self judgement. We don’t want our work – who we are – to be visible, so we stay out on the back deck, hidden from all but those who know how to find us.
Sometimes they step over us without even noticing that we are there – alone – waiting to be seen.
We are clay in the Masters hand, but we are all apprentices to the Potter as well. Like a good Teacher, He allows us to be part of the learning process for others.
The minute we begin to share our faith, or mentor, pastor, disciple, or hold relevant groups, we become apprentices to the Master- we hold the responsibility of helping to mold someone else. But we often shape others by twisting, forcing, and forming with our not so gentle hands. We hold onto images of the shape or time frame when our pots are ready to be fired, so we rush or manhandle them and produce lumps, bumps, and cracks. We are all too quick to throw the pots into the fire before they are ready, and often they end up burned.
“I’m captured by Your holy calling
Set me apart, I know you’re drawing me to yourself
Lead me Lord I pray…”
Instead of being a display for the Master, they remain hidden from view completely – afraid that the piece they have become is a disappointment to the Master, and not worthy of a public display.
Instead of helping them to come out from behind the rocks and believe in the unique beauty of their broken, burned, or marred pieces, we push them further away so we don’t see their imperfections. Their imperfections only point to our own, and we don’t want our imperfections revealed. We know we will also be prodded, molded, and thrown into the fire.
“To be chosen as the Beloved of God is something radically different. Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. It is not a competitive, but a compassionate choice. Our minds have great difficulty in coming to grips with such a reality. Maybe our minds will never understand it. Perhaps it is only our hearts that can accomplish this.” Henri Nouwen
True love – God’s love – does not poke or prod. It doesn’t rush, or coerce. It never uses fear, control, or manipulation to incur change. True love is a presence that allows others to be drawn into the place where they are safe to be truly seen, in all their broken and burned fragments. True love reveals Jesus from the broken place within ourselves – within our own hearts.
The Master Potter takes a lifetime to mold us into His image, into who He has called us to be. We remain safely in His hands as he molds us, gently curving us where He wills, making each of us unique. The furnace remains in the far off distance, waiting for the time when we see him face to face, and He completes His perfect work.
Love is not threatened by what is revealed within ourselves when we embrace broken humanity.
“Take me, Mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me,
I give my life to the Potter’s hand…”
Our lives and the lives of others rest safely in the Potters hand. We need to remember that.
Images – Courtesy of SAMSHOTS Photgraphy