You are the potter. I am the clay.
There I rest on the table, shapeless, formless, blissfully comfortable. I know life no other way. I have been in this state for as long as I can remember.
You approach the table. Picking me up in Your hands, You roll me between Your palms, examining me, observing me... then slam me down onto the table. Over and over again I am smashed, no trace left behind of my previous form. Then comes the kneading, the pressing, stretching, pulling, as You work to eliminate air pockets from me, worthless space, excesses that cause me harm.
Battered and bruised, You carry me tenderly to the potters wheel. You take my limp, pliable body and carefully place me in the center of the wheel. The wheel begins to rotate, faster and faster, until I am spinning wildly, out of balance, flailing about. Then I feel Your powerful hands surrounding me and I am overcome by the pressure - oh, the pressure. I don't know if I can bear it. Your strong hands gradually smooth my lumps, remove my wobbles, move me precisely to the center of the wheel. Slowly, You remove Your hands to reveal me spinning smoothly, beautifully, perfectly centered by You. I am an object of beauty, full of possibilities, hopes, futures, dreams, expectations. I wait eagerly for You to transform me from a simple lump of clay into a vessel, a vessel to suit Your purposes.
You begin to prepare me for more stretching. Slowly, methodically, You pull me upwards, applying pressure from all sides. I cannot escape it. Gradually, I begin to take form. You ruthlessly shave and scrape away excess clay, anything that does not compliment the form You intend for me. More pushing, more pulling, more thinning, more shaping, more scraping. Finally satisfied with my form, You slow the spinning wheel to a stop. I am complete... yet not finished. I am still terribly fragile, easily broken, able to revert back into my former state of nothingness.
No, I need to be fired in a furnace, baked by heat until I am solid and strong. You carefully place me in the furnace and I am slowly enveloped by the searing heat. The inferno changes me, renews me. When I finally emerge, I am transformed. Though I may look similar, I have been permanently changed. There is no going back to who I used to be.
You gently pick me up, stroke me lovingly, and give me a nod of approval. I'm ready to be a vessel for You, one of the many vessels You use each day for countless purposes. It is the ultimate honor to be used by You, my loving, tender Creator.
You are the potter. I am the clay.
For the past few years, I have been undergoing a slow transformation. After years of crying out, asking God to change my heart and transform me into who He wants me to be, I'm finally beginning to recognize His work in my life. There have been many deeply personal issues weighing on my heart lately, things that I cannot even begin to find the words for.... I cannot describe them if I tried. I find comfort knowing that God understands these groaning of mine, these things I cannot utter.
I sensed a change about to overcome me. Often, I had the oddest sensation that I was standing on the edge of a cliff, contemplating jumping. This past week, I felt God give me a gentle push off that cliff. I am in the free-fall right now. What does this mean? I don't know. How will I land? I don't know. I just know that I'm going to hit bottom soon... and once I hit bottom there is nowhere else to go but up.
This week, I was weeping to God in the morning, pouring out my feelings, telling Him how I was feeling pulled, stretched and shaped, so much that it hurt. I was having trouble finding balance, feeling totally uncentered. I was pleading with Him, asking Him to remove this pain... and then it hit me that THIS is what I had been asking for. I had BEGGED Him to transform me, to change me. God is answering my long-suffering prayer. When I realized this, I had to laugh through my tears. Change is hard. Change is painful. Change requires removing parts of our old self and taking on a new self. It reminds me of that old saying "Be careful what your ask for". I asked for this.
As I was wondering how God will transform me, the imagery of a potter working at the wheel kept coming to mind. In my former life (before I became a stay-at-home-mother), I was a high school Art teacher and I taught countless students how to "throw pots" on the wheel (that is the technical term for making something on the potter's wheel). There is something grounding and powerful about working on the wheel, watching something come from nothing, participating in the joy of creating as God does. I remember teaching my students that one of the main reason humans create art work is to express emotion. There are some things in this life that words simply cannot contain. Art is taking the internal and making it available to all to see (and this is why artists are so sensitive about their art - we're literally putting our inner thoughts on display for the world... talk about putting yourself out there...).
I remember the day there was a tragedy in our school, announced during a school gathering. The father of one of my students had suddenly died the night before. We were all overcome with grief and shock. I vaguely remember stumbling back to the classroom and my beloved students found me sobbing in the kiln room. Some students solemnly began working on projects, others cried, while many sat unable to move, painfully aware that we were missing a classmate that day. I could not speak - one of my dear students took the reigns for me and lead us in a time of prayer. Afterwards, I wandered over the to the potters wheel and found a piece of clay waiting on one of the potters wheels - it had been placed there the day before by the student who father had died. Sensing God's direction, I sat at that wheel, fought back the tears, and began to transform that lump of clay into something of beauty, finishing the work my student was not able to do. The feel of the clay in my hands soothed me, centered me, smoothed my raw, jagged edges. That clay seemed to absorb my grief and sadness, and out of it rose something beautiful. I desperately needed to create that vessel, to feel that connection to God, to be reminded of His promise that He will make all things beautiful - I had no words to express my sorrow, but my hands knew how. When the vessel was finished, I fired it, glazed it and presented it as a gift to the suffering family. Even on such a terrible day, God's wonder, goodness and beauty were still present..
I have begun to see myself as the clay and God as the potter. God takes my grief, my sadness, my failures, my inadequacies, my rough edges... and He transforms me into something beautiful, something that has purpose. Right now I feel as though I am in the kneading stage - God has taken me from my complacent life and is in the process of stretching, smashing, pulling at me. It hurts. It's making me question everything I accepted as "normal" (and this is big, because I'm not used to asking questions... I always simply accepted things). My world is being turned upside down. God is removing things from me, taking away what harms or hinders me from being who He wants me to be. Soon, He will place me on the wheel and center me. He will form me. He will place me in the furnace to change me. Yes, this is what I desire - center me, form me, change me. I am an expression of God's heart, something words cannot describe.
Transform me, Lord Jesus.