Of God, Faith, and Clay

The author of the following has been walking along with God ever since he was about twelve years of age.

Lectori Salutem!

Lectori Salutem!

In his biography “ Of Faith, Miracles, Memories and Reflections” he spelled out the multitude of blessings and favors he experienced up to that time. Nothing much has changed, except that there is more of the same in that his Faith is constantly growing and being molded by God’s omnipresence, as well as His omnipotence and omniscience.

The Christian life, the author remains convinced, is one in which one constantly seeks the Lord’s advice, constantly acknowledges God’s presence and one in which one prays “without cessation”. Having done pottery demonstrations for over forty years the author, in that time has developed a “story line” if you will, about being a potter and the similarities between the way God molds His Children and a potter molds a pot. Shared here in a concise and direct manner, backed up by Biblical quotes and their “addresses”, it is hoped that the following will touch the reader’s heart and confirm or reconfirm one’s Faith.

There is not much earth-shattering news here, except that the above stated premise might pause one to think and reevaluate one’s relationship with God. The way a potter goes about his craft of centering, opening up, drawing up, shaping and creating a lump of clay is indeed very similar to the way God  “handles and manipulates” His Children….

It is no secret to those familiar with the Bible, that God took some clay and molded the first man, Adam. He took some “clay” it was said: the potter too takes some clay and creates a pot. Being a potter and being very much aware of how clay responds to the potter’s hands undersigned was struck indeed by the parallels between the ever-developing life of a Christian, as God directs that life and the “playing in the mud”.

The origins of the potter’s wheel and the art of pottery are lost in history, but it is known that both the potter and his craft were around in Biblical times. The Bible contains several verses in several different books and passages that relate to the potter and his clay.  Used as metaphorical illustrations the “pottery passages” in the Bible are used to show the reader something about man’s relationship with God.

The prophet Jeremiah was told by God: “Arise, and go ye to the potter’s house and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold; he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter; so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” (Jeremiah 18:2-4)

The prophet Isaiah also reminds us that man is like the potter’s clay and God is like the potter when he says “But now, O Lord…we are the clay and Thou our potter; and we are the work of Thy hand. (Isaiah 64:8) Note that when Jeremiah stated that when the potter thought the clay was marred, the potter started over and made a new vessel. The potter, being experienced in such matters, knew that the marred clay would never make a good pot, so he reworked it, re-wedged it and tried again.

Man is like the potter’s clay. God created man in His own image and the first work of human “pottery”, Adam, sinned. God’s work was marred. Unfortunately, all of the offspring of this first lump of clay inherited the same marred nature. ”Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.”(Romans5: 12) Man is like marred lumps of clay because we have all inherited that sin “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

The sin in our lives is like the sticks and stones and other impurities in the potter’s clay that prevents the potter from making a useful vessel. If a potter were to allow the impurities and the sticks and stones to remain in the clay, he might be able to make a vessel, but that vessel would surely be marred and would there for surely explode in the fiery flames of the potter’s furnace. The resulting shards would be good for nothing except the trash pile. Like the sticks and stones and other impurities in the clay, man’s sin needs to be removed before God can mold and shape the young Christian’s life into one of His servants.

In order for the potter to create a proper vessel, he will first wash the clay and remove all impurities.  Slamming the clay on the wedging board and kneading it in a specific way the potter causes the clay to go through a multitude of “trials and tribulations” thereby preparing the clay for things to come. The act of centering the purified, washed, cleaned and wedged clay on the wheel can be compared to God’s way of allowing his Children to be exposed to all kinds of trials and tribulations, thereby nudging them ever closer to Him. So it is with centering: a little nudge here, a little nudge there and before one is even aware of it the clay is centered and ready to be shaped into a vessel.

The hard part, for both the potter and the Christian is to remain centered and focused so that God can do His thing in the life of the baby Christian…The similarities between the act of creating a pot on the potter’s wheel and the relationship between the Believer and God are endless, as one can clearly see. As clay needs to be washed and purified, sinful man also needs to be washed and purified before he can join God in Heaven. God uses two elements to “clean up”, “purify” the sinner.

The Word of God, the Bible is like the water that cleanses the potter’s clay. God uses His word to cleanse people”…with the washing of water by the word,” (Ephesians 5:26). Jesus said: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken onto you.” (John 15:3) God also washes our sin away with the Blood of Jesus. “…Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Rev.1: 5) Jeremiah told how the “…clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again another vessel…” Being born with sin the first time we need to be forgiven and re-made, so Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:3). It is through this re-birth that we are like re-made clay vessels,  which are pleasing to God. Once we are these “new creatures” we can have fellowship with God and know the true purpose and meaning of life.

In summary, consider the following: In order to create the perfect pot, the clay has to be just right, it has to be perfectly centered and has to respond properly to the potter’s sensitive hands. One could compare the act of “centering” to the act of surrendering one ‘s self to God. Centering, being on center, is both the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, everything in between is JOY!  Once “centered”, focused if you will, the ever-growing development of the Christian life becomes a piece of cake!

…And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Rogier Donker