Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shaped by God

One of my favorite classes I ever took was an adult education pottery class when I was living in Orlando, Florida. I have always read in the Bible about God being the potter and Christians being the clay, but it didn’t really strike me until I attended this class what that really meant. Most folks think of a potter as a person who sits at the wheel and shapes pots, but there is so much more to it than that. Old world potters will go out and dig up the clay themselves. In class we were given 10 pound blocks of grey clay that was already cleaned and ready to work, but this isn’t so for most artist. They must remove the impurities from the clay through “pugging” in a mill. Next the clay is wedged. Wedging is a process of cutting and kneading the clay to remove impurities and air. When I think of wedging, I think about how God prepares us for a relationship with Him, how he cuts out the parts of our lives that don’t belong.

The next step is centering the clay on the wheel. This is a critical step for pot stability. The clay is smacked onto the wheel with a great deal of force. Then with wet hands the potter centers the clay by applying pressure to the sides to raise it up. The clay is then forced downward into a hockey puck shape. Most students are confused by this step. They don’t understand why the master potter would raise up the clay only to push it back down flatter than it was in the beginning. Centering creates a firm foundation for the pot to stand. In the Christian life we too have our ups and downs. God puts pressure on us to help center us.

After the clay is centered and has a firm foundation, the potter opens up the clay using downward pressure of her thumb into the center of the clay. The clay is opened up with pressure on the base and side of the pot, then it is pulled up. The master starts at the base of the vessel and pulls it up to the height desired. This is the step where student potters go awry. The master knows that the pressure on the inside of the pot must be balance with pressure on the outside. When I think about pulling the clay up, I remind myself that when there is pressure one side of me, the Master’s hand is providing counter pressure to guide my shape. Nothing is done in my life that the Master’s hand is not in. He is the potter. …to be continued …Jeremiah 18:1-17

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