A lesson from the Potters hand........
|ceramic bird by Salzano's|
I am a potter. Actually I think of potters of those who use a pottery wheel but I am more a sculpture potter. I work daily at my studio wares and recently a good message from the work applies to our lives.
I had a ceramic spoon that was drying. Let me explain the process. I take raw wet clay from the earth and pound it over and over until it becomes pliable and workable. If I tried to create with out this process the clay would crack and not adhere to each other well. A useless product would come of it. So, I pound it until I can tell it is ready for sculpting.
Once that is done I then work it into a object, bowl, spoon, etc. It must then be allowed to harden a bit. Now I want the clay to wait and not be so pliable. For when it has hardened a tiny bit I can start adding the details in the clay. I put a rag over it and make sure it is slightly damp. This allows a cooling, drying but not too much. After a few hours (and I check it often) I can now carve into the clay or take parts off the clay for the details. This takes more time and careful thought. Slow movements of my hand into the features the clay must have.
Now the piece is ready for more drying only now I do not use water on the cloth but let it sit under the cloth without moisture. Later I will sign the bottom and any minor improvements it may need.
After that it is allowed to go bone dry.
It was at this stage I made a fatal mistake on my spoon. The spoon was laid while bone dry on the dish that I had made to go with it. But in a moment of frustration, I forgot the dish and spoon was on the table I pound on. I started a new project of pounding and the spoon broke in two. Had I not been frustrated, I would have seen my spoon and bowl and moved them to a safe area.
The spiritual lessons are these:
We are the clay in God's hand. We cannot become a more Godly person unless we are pliable. We are hardened and self willed before God calls us. We go about in all sorts of pain. Drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, gambling and irresponsible behaviors.
When we answer God's call we must be willing to become pliable in His hands. This means surrendering what we want, what we think is best for us, what we want to do to His. This is called TRUST. We must trust that the circumstances of our life may be hard for awhile. This is the pounding of the clay. The pounding of our will in and through life's circumstances is preparing us to be molded into right character.
God keeps us watered, but pounds us through the seasons of life. At first they are minor sufferings and circumstances. But as you grow older the stress of change becomes more difficult to endure. Just as muscles need to exert more in exercise to grow into a slimmer and healthy body so does our character. The times come when after the fist pounding to get us pliable we then find we must be set aside to listen and wait. We are like in darkness while we trust our God. The rag is over us but we are still given water but we are inactive and waiting. Waiting is very hard for any person that loves to be DOING something! It may be a time in the same job. Or you want to move and no door opens. Or a relationship that nothing seems to change for the better. But there we sit. Undercover in the dark for a season.
Then we are out in the light again. A break! But we get carved into and details come to life we did not know before. We then enter yet again a period of lying under the cloth of darkness. Another season to wait. But this time there is NO WATER! Maybe God is not talking to you as much as He used to. A time to trust Him without hearing from Him. Will you remember all the times He watered you? (talked to you, sent his love in a hundred ways). We have thoughts of doubt, did God really talk to me and lead in days past? Am I on the right track or should I change? What should I do? all these thoughts may come and it is now that you must remain Solid! DO not do anything but trust God and obey. If no change happens keep waiting. You will never fail if you put all trust and wait for God to direct you.
This season will be the hardest. It must be gone through. Remember the God who loves you and is molding you is with you every second of every day. He knows every thing that is happening to you. He will be checking on you like the potter and you are always in His perfect care. You cannot see it right now but He is there. If someone is mistreating you He knows. If you are in need HE KNOWS. Keep in prayer and never quit. Do not DOUBT! For Doubt is like a restless sea and can not obtain the promises of God. When you have a moment of doubt just refute it from your mind and cry out to God to steady you. And you will have them. You will not fail unless you give up.
|green ware drying|
After the clay is hard and dry. Comes yet another and much harder trial for the clay. Fire. The clay is heated to high temperatures to fix the created one to a solid state. Trial by fire is another stage of our character building. This will determine who stands. I do not know what fire you must go through. Some of mine have been: A death of a husband. The loss of income. The death of loved ones. The loss of a job. Broken relationships. Trusted friends turning on you for false reasons.
Yours could be the same or different but all are trials of fire. Where will your faith be while you are in it? If your trusted God you will come out of the fire a better and stronger person!! But wait. There is more!
Now you come out of the fire and are adorned with great colors. Isn't life grand! You get the job back. You get a new home only to find out another fire is necessary! The painting must be melted to adhere to the pottery and one more fire is necessary. Maybe the new job has come but with some big responsibility and headaches. Maybe the new marriage has turned into a nightmare of learning how to be patient and humble. Whatever this firing it is the same. Trust God and leave the consequences up to Him.
KEY: I have found that the key to dealing with the fires is the take all things to God and not take the problems out on others or gripe and complain to all your friends and family. I have three people that I allow myself to talk to other wise I take everything to God. He is the rock. We take all things to the Rock who can save us. The others can only listen.
Now back to my spoon. It broke in the greenware stage. Not yet fired. I was able to add watered down clay to it and fix it. It was fired and did turn out just fine. But if it had broken after the firing. Either firing one or two it would be worthless and tossed out to the dump.
Once the knowledge and ways of God have been given to you and you have walked in His paths and experienced the truth and love of God you cannot quit and turn back. God does not allow this. It would defile you to turn back to the old ways after knowing God. Those who willingly and with knowledge refuse God's ways will die. They shall die a eternal death away from life.
This does not mean we never fail and go and sin. we all do but the difference is that most followers of Christ repent and get right back up to try again. No matter how often we fall down Christ is there to help us back on the track. It is only the hard hearted who refuse after knowing God -that shall be eternally condemned. No longer living or breathing the breath of God given life. We choose. Choose LIFE!
|pottery bowl by salzano's.|
What is really cool is that after the greenware, the first firing, the painting/glazing and another firing we then are vessels that are useful. My bowls are now able to HOLD water. Not only do we still receive water (the word) but we can share the water (word of God). We are not just receiving but also helping others. There are so many more grains of wisdom in the story of pottery makers. I am sure you will find your life there as you are growing into a vessel of God!