Posted by: karanoel | February 22, 2018

We are the clay

Hands on the pottery wheelChase and I bought some clay a few months back. As we kneaded the large lump and attempted to coax it into shapes that at least vaguely resembled ornaments, I couldn’t help thinking of this verse in Isaiah: “We are the clay, and You are our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” Looking at that shapeless blob on the table, it didn’t seem to be the most flattering comparison.

In our culture, which does not admire passivity or deference, it’s hard to reconcile such a seemingly inactive and submissive role as that of clay. We are far more comfortable considering ourselves the potters and our lives the work of our hands. But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that we are no more able to make something of our lives than a lump of clay can – on its own – rise up from the table and become a sculpture… or an ashtray… or anything at all.

The only thing clay is capable of doing is yielding to pressure or resisting it. While not a prestigious role, it is a crucial one because to what it yields – or, rather, to whom it yields – will determine what it becomes. And so it is with us. While our identity as God’s beloved will always remain secure, what becomes of our life and what we can be used for are determined by whose touch we yield to. Since we’ve established that we can’t shape ourselves, that pretty much leaves us in the hands of God or the world.

Yielding to the world’s touch will look like freedom. (It is the wide gate, after all.) That’s because the prince of this world doesn’t care who we become – no matter how noble – just as long as it isn’t who God purposed us to be. Which makes sense because becoming our true selves requires intimacy with the Father and will naturally express His nature, making it a profound threat to the stability of the enemy’s kingdom.

The world can’t shape us into anything without our willingness, so we must be persuaded. The foundation for this argument usually begins by casting shadows either on God’s goodness and His intentions for us, or on His ability to meet our needs and fulfill our desires. This typically secures at least slight resistance to God’s touch and a readiness to place our trust elsewhere. Since pretty much no one would willingly surrender to satan, the world doesn’t ask us to trust in him. Instead, it presses hard on our tendency to trust in ourselves, making a deeply convincing case that we possess the surest way to happiness, security, significance, acceptance or whatever it is we most crave… and then it illuminates tangible paths to satisfy those needs. We so often yield to these ill-intentioned designs and false promises, comforted by our control; oblivious to the fact that we are being made.

Yielding to God’s hands will often feel more limiting. That’s because he is shaping us into a specific vessel that will best express our heart and His; the one He saw in us long before we were even a formless mound of clay. He’s not concerned that we know what that is supposed look like or how to become it – only that we trust Him, laying down the security of control for the incomparable security of love. Because that is freedom. It looses us from the exhausting burden of striving, comparing and performing and delivers us into rest because all outward measures of success are rendered irrelevant by the wholeness and completeness of our identity as seen by the Master, before He had even made one imprint. 

But it doesn’t end there, because once we are at rest and are no longer resisting, we become soft and pliable in His hands and get to see the reality of His vision as masterpieces of great beauty emerge from raw material…  each exquisitely different from the rest, but all bursting with joy, fulfilling our purpose to the fullest, and bringing glory to the patient, loving, perfect Artist who created us.

 

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 133:8

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves… 2 Corinthians 4:7

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:8

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? Romans 9:19-21

You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Isaiah 29:16

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; only what He sees the Father doing.. John 5:19

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33


Responses

  1. Brilliant and right on the point the Holy Spirit seems to be emphasizing in so many lives right now (like MINE!). I’m so blessed and proud in the Lord that God has given me a daughter who has become my teacher and encourager!

  2. Thanks dad! So grateful for you and excited for what’s ahead!


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