Pastoral Perspectives

Potter And Clay

How do we look at ourselves in relation to God our Creator?  Do we regard ourselves as a lump of clay in the hands of the Potter, our Creator?  What do we understand regarding this metaphor, “Potter and Clay”?  There are several verses in the Bible in regards to this.  They are: Isaiah 64: 8 & 9, Jeremiah 18: 1 – 6, Romans 9 and 2 Corinthians 4.  I hope that we can re-discover the essence of this metaphor for ourselves.

A brother in Christ, who is familiar with making pottery out of clay, shared the process with me and also the lessons which he has learnt.

To begin making pottery, the clay must be thoroughly kneaded to get rid of any air bubbles that might be hidden inside the clay.  The trapped air bubbles are “dangerous” for the clay.  If it is not purge out, it will burst the clay during the “firing” of the clay.  Kneading the clay condition is important.  This is to prepare it to be used by the potter.  Every potter desires a lump of good clay: clay that is able to follow the potter’s hand to be shaped and moulded into what he had in his mind to make it into. The clay must not be hard as hardness in the clay will resist the potter’s hand.  The clay must not be too soft either.  If it is too soft, it will crumble when the potter tries to shape it or it may also crumble by its own weight.  Water is very important for the clay. It is the water that softens the hardness of the clay.  By nature, the clay will lose its moisture over time so it is important to constantly apply water to clay to bring back its softness.

Have you ever completed a ‘masterpiece’ and then find out that that ‘masterpiece’ of yours had exploded during “firing”?  The explosion, not only destroys your pot, it also damages other pots that are around it because of the flying shrapnel.  What causes this?  The culprit is the hidden trapped air bubble inside the clay.  Remember in the beginning as the potter prepares the clay, he kneads the clay to purge out all the hidden air bubbles. However, when forming the clay into pot, air bubbles will induce into the
clay.  Besides causing explosion during “firing” of pot, the air bubble can also cause premature failures during forming as the void it created causes a lost in strength.  The only way to this is first to expose the air bubble.  Next, it is to patch it up with soft clay.  Soft clay will be able to easily adhere and blend in nicely to the hole left by the air bubble void.

As you can see how tedious the whole process is for the potter to make pottery out of a lump of clay.  In Isaiah 64: 8-9, it is written: “Yet, O LORD, You are our Father.  We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.  Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins for ever.  Oh, look upon us we pray, for we are Your people.”

We are just like the lump of clay in the hands of the potter.  We are the clay. Our Father in Heaven, the Lord our God, is the Potter.  He can make us into the kind of person He wants us to be.  In the process, we have to undergo many trials and hardships in order to be shaped and moulded by His gentle and loving hands.  When we first put our trust in Jesus as our Saviour, God has forgiven us of all our sins on His account.  In Christ, we have become a new creation.  We are given God’s Holy Spirit and are ready to do His work.  We cannot do His work by our knowledge and our strength.  We need to depend upon the Holy Spirit to empower and enable us to do His work.  We must always keep our heart soft so that we can be teachable.  Then, God can use us.  If we are proud, God cannot use us.  We need to be softened by the working power of the Spirit of God in our lives.  We should discipline ourselves to walk along with God in obedience and in co-operation with Him and be ready to serve Him.  The Word of God is our living water.  It quenches our thirsts and refreshes our soul and spirit.  Let us not forget to constantly and consistently immerse ourselves in the very Word of God to keep our hearts humble (soft) and teachable.  We are just like the clay.  As we walk with Jesus, the journey may not be smooth and easy.  Surely, there will be times of temptation confronting us and we will fail some of them.  Let us not be totally disheartened, disillusioned and discouraged when we fail.  But let us cling on to in 1 John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  What we actually need to do when we sin is to confess the sins before God and then repent from them (exposing the air bubbles trapped in the clay), then God will restore us to a right relationship with Him (patching us back with soft clay: clay that is well moisture.)

Let us, therefore, be able to follow closely to God’s hand and pass all the tests till the last “firing” process when we will finally become what our Lord had in His mind to make us into.  When we become what He had made us to be, this will bring glory and honour to His Name!

Pr George Ang

May 22, 2011