Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Formed in His Hands (part 1) by @emilylaney

“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:  “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 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.  He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” 
Jeremiah 18:1-6

Earlier this year I joined a pottery studio for a month. It was part of my “30 by 30” bucket list to take a pottery class and learn to do wheel throwing. I worked on a wheel when I was in high school and loved the challenge of pottery, so I decided to give it a try again.

I’m familiar with the references in scripture about us being the clay and God being the potter, but it really hit home for me when I began working with clay. Each step reminded me of the ways God works as our potter, and how we are the clay in his hands.

The first step of wheel throwing is centering. The clay must be centered on the wheel. But it’s not about where the potter puts the clay on the wheel. The potter should aim for the clay to be centered, but I learned that true ‘centering’ of the clay comes from the potter’s hands. It takes pressure from all sides to center the clay. The clay must be firmly placed on the foundation of the wheel and must allow itself to be centered by the potter. As I attempted to center my clay, I was reminded of how we must allow ourselves to be planted firmly in the foundation of Jesus in order to center our lives around God’s purposes for us.

After the clay is centered, the potter sets about molding the clay into the vessel. It takes a steady hand and precision to correctly form the clay. As long as the clay is centered on the wheel, the piece will begin to form, but the potter must be careful to create a piece that is in keeping with the size of the clay. If the pot is too thin on the sides, it will not hold its shape. If it’s too thick, it may not dry properly or it could capture air bubbles or water in the clay, which would destroy the pot in the finishing process. As I set about molding my little pots, forming a base and pulling up the sides, I was reminded how God’s perfect hand forms our life. Every movement is precise with purpose.

I am a beginner at throwing pots, so of course I had a few pots that didn’t work out quite like I had planned. Each time a pot collapsed or was marred, it was because the clay was not properly centered or was sliding around the wheel as I formed the pot. But if the clay wasn’t centered, I removed it and tried again. That process reminded me how even when we don’t center our lives on the foundation of Jesus, God never discards us. He forms our lives in his hands, and we are the clay, molded and shaped by the Master Potter.

The little pot pictured is one of those pieces of clay I had to try a couple times to create. But when its time on the wheel was done, I felt so proud. It’s a small pot, maybe four inches tall. Compared to the other works in the studio, it’s nothing special. If I tried to sell it I probably wouldn’t get anything for it. But you know what? It’s mine. I created it, I formed it with my hands. It even has my fingerprint on it. And as I stared with pride at my little pot, I felt my Potter remind me that I’m his beautiful creation and that He is forming me in his hands. He is forming our lives into beautiful pieces of art that point to Him. It takes time and patience, but we are in his hands. 

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker. She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia. She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog

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