Clay In The Hands Of The Potter

What do you see when you look upon a lump of clay? You may be like me and see a dry piece of dirt you can’t do much with. Now imagine if a potter were to look at that same lump of clay. What do you think he might see? I think he would see endless possibilities.

Have you ever seen a potter at work on his wheel? It is fascinating to watch. To see a seemingly useless piece of clay formed and fashioned into a beautiful pot is an amazing thing to witness.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

Isaiah uses this word picture to describe our relationship with God our Father. He describes God as our potter, and we are the clay. This description is an excellent illustration, and I can see why it is used several times throughout scripture.

God is our Master Potter, and we are like clay in his hands. Knowing this can help us better understand the trials we face in this life. They are all used by the potter to shape and mold us into honorable vessels, fit for the master’s good use.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the process of making a vessel from clay and see how it relates to the life of every believer.

Design In Mind

Before a potter sits down at his wheel, he prepares the clay by kneading it and making sure there are no air bubbles in sight. He has a design in mind for this particular piece of clay all while he is doing this. He knows the exact amount of clay needed for the vessel he will form. As he kneads the clay, he begins to think about the function this vessel will have.

“I need something I can pour various liquids into. This vessel needs to be able to hold the liquid well and pour it out at a whim… I have it! I’ll make a beautiful cup that can fulfill this need.”

Can you picture God being this way before he formed you in your mother’s womb? The Lord knew exactly what he had in mind before he reached for the clay that he formed you with. He had a design in mind and knew what function he wanted you to fulfill in the earth.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Trusting The Mind Of God

Oftentimes we don’t trust the mind of the potter. We begin to think we know what is best for us. I know I have been there. The Lord tells me he will form me into a “cup,” and I begin to explain to him the design I have in my mind for myself. I begin to say, “but Lord, I don’t want to be just a measly old cup! I think I would be more useful to you as a plate. Yes, Lord, a plate is what’s best for me!”

How can we, the clay, tell the potter what is best for us? Yet, we do this time and time again. We become like the children of Israel and twist things around in our relationship with the potter.

“You turn things upside down as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)

God, in fact, knows all things. We can trust in his omniscience. He knows what vessel he desires to form you into. You and I both can rest in the plans he has in his mind for us.

The Potter At His Wheel

The potter has envisioned the vessel he desires to form and then proceeds to take a seat at his wheel. He grabs the clay and places it precisely on the center of the wheel. His foot touches the petal that enables the wheel to spin, and the process begins. Round and round, the clay spins, and the potter begins to add water to the clay. This happens, so the clay doesn’t dry out and will ensure it remains pliable in his hands. As the clay spins, the potter goes to work.
As the skilled potter works, he knows the precise amount of pressure to apply to the clay. He knows when to loosen his grip, and he knows where to trim off parts of the clay to form the vessel he has envisioned. His hands are used to shape and mold. The piece of clay that once laid lifeless is now coming to life. It is being fashioned on the wheel into a vessel that will be useful to the potter.

The Father At His Wheel

The Lord is like the potter from the description above. Our heavenly Father is the most skillful potter we know. Each of us is like clay on his wheel. As he begins to form us into a usable vessel, he knows the right amount of pressure to apply to our lives. This pressure can show up in our lives as trials and/or hardships.

Sometimes the pressure he decides to use is a little too much for us. So what do we do… we get up from our Father’s wheel.

When we get up from the Master Potter’s wheel, other things step in and become the potter for us. Our will can become our potter. The expectations of other people can become our potter. And worse of all, the enemy can become our potter. All of these will result in the clay being ‘marred’ or disfigured because none of these other “potters” are qualified to do the job of the Master Potter. None of these “potters” have the mind of the Master Potter, and therefore can not possibly make what he intended with accuracy.

Get Back On The Wheel

If you have gotten off the Potters wheel and have become marred, have no fear, beloved. Our God is in the redeeming business!

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! (Jeremiah 18:4-6)

God can form and reform us if need be. So even if we get off of his wheel, we can get back on and allow him to reform us into the vision he had in mind, to begin with.

The Finished Product

Although the shaping and molding process does not feel good at times, it is all for a purpose. Our Father is trying to conform us to the very image of his Son. (Romans 8:29) It is our job to surrender and trust ourselves to the potter’s hand. We don’t want to slow the process down by resisting his loving hand. Although we may resist at times, he is still a patient potter. He is willing to draw us closer to him with his loving-kindness until we can completely trust him with our lives. What an awesome God we serve!

I encourage each of you not to fall for the temptation to get off the wheel based on the conditions you have to endure. The vessel cannot form itself. It needs the expertise and hands of the potter to mold it. Stay on the wheel no matter the pressures you have to subject yourself to. Allow his will to be done in you.

C.S. Lewis once said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ “

I want the former, rather than the latter, for my life. I pray these are your sentiments as well. When His will is done in our lives, it will lead to us becoming “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

Be The Work of His Hands

Allow the hands of the Master Potter to shape you into a vessel that houses his Spirit. He desires to fashion a vessel that will pour out his love to a lost and dying world. He knows the function he needs you to fulfill on the earth. Trust his creative abilities, and let him transform you into a beautiful masterpiece. It will be a masterpiece that has the very image of Christ himself.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

What a privilege and an honor it is to be clay in the hands of this Potter!

Application Questions

  1. Who do you believe you behave more like, the potter or the clay? If it is the potter, how can you reverse the roles and become pliable clay in the hands of the Potter?
  2. What people, situations, or hardships does the Lord use to shape and mold you? Are you resisting the shaping process, or are you surrendering your life to the hands of the Potter?
  3. Have you ever gotten off his wheel and allowed other things to shape and mold you? Do you think it was due to you not trusting the Lord with your life? How can you begin to trust your life into the hands of God, who is not only our Potter but also our loving Father?

Check out the video below to see the beautiful process of making pottery!

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