I've been thinking a lot lately about pottery and the process of forming clay into something beautiful and useful.
It started in late June when we took 11 grandchildren to Keramos Ceramics in Hartselle to choose a piece of pottery (already crafted) and paint it. They were so proud of their creations after they were fired and ready to take home at the end of the week.
Then, two weeks ago, Steve and I were exploring the extreme northeast corner of Alabama and found a fascinating business called Miracle Pottery. The owner's name is Valinda Miracle, and she became a potter through a series of unfortunate events. The short version is this -- Valinda had a successful career in real estate cut short by a serious car accident. During rehab for a traumatic brain injury, she discovered the therapeutic effects of working with clay, and her shop is the result. Many of her pieces, along with her paintings, have a spiritual element. When I asked her what denomination she belonged to, she said she didn't affiliate with a specific denomination, but "It's just Jesus. Only Jesus." Wow.
And a few days ago, Steve and I were in Lexington, Alabama, and I wanted to find a place called Worthy Vessels. You have to agree that is a heart-grabbing name for a pottery shop. We found the place, but it didn't appear to be open, so we didn't get to talk to the potter. I was especially interested in exploring the 200-year-old cabin on the grounds. Maybe another day. Notice the fish symbol on the sign. I believe there are Christians inside, don't you?
But, back to Hartselle. While the grandkids were painting at Keramos, I was wandering around the shop and found this stunning photograph of the owner, Rebecca Horner, using her hands to form clay at the potter's wheel. I found the image to be so compelling. The graceful, confident, patient gestures. Her face as she worked. The malleable nature of the wet clay beginning to take its shape.
At any time in the process, Rebecca could flatten the clay and start over. Or with a different motion or tool, the clay could take a completely different shape.
OF COURSE, I turned to Jeremiah 18. Read these first 6 verses.
"The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 “Am I not able, house of Israel, to deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel."
God is the potter of our lives. He has shaped us exactly as He wanted. If we have crooked lines, funny bulges, uneven edges, or blemishes, He put them there. He could have started all over when He saw imperfections, but He didn't. He took us off His wheel, refined us through His kiln, and put us on earth for His purposes. In truth, He is still molding and refining us on the inside -- something that is difficult in a pottery studio but is completely possible in God's hands.
There are so many more analogies I could make today, but I'll stop and let you mull over that Jeremiah passage for yourself.
Do you and I try to stubbornly resist being molded by the Ultimate Potter?
Shouldn't we remember how foolish that is?
Isaiah 64:8 -- "But now, Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter,
And all of us are the work of Your hand."