“You are the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.”
This is a line from one of my favorite old hymns, “Change My Heart, O God.” As much as I love our modern contemporary worship music, there is something about hymns that I can’t get enough of. The simplistic and often poetic words of hymns always seem to resonate deeply with me.
"I want to become an athlete of influence!"
A couple of years ago at church, the choir was singing a familiar hymn during the morning service. I can’t recall which particular hymn it was, but it started a train of thought in my mind that led to these lyrics: “You are the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.” I kept repeating these lyrics in my head over and over and had them stuck in my head for a couple days after. The more I repeated these words, the more I began to reflect on what they meant and how they applied to me.
The analogy of the potter and the clay to describe our relationship with God is used in a few different places throughout Scripture. One notable instance is found in Isaiah 64:8.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
Have you ever seen a clay pot being made? If you’re not familiar with the process of turning a glob of clay into a useful pot, you should check out a video online.
To save you some time, let me paint a quick picture of what it entails. The potter starts with a piece of clay and places it on a spinning plate. He then begins to shape the clay as it spins using his hands and other tools. The clay is spun, stretched, pulled, pinched, squeezed, and molded until the potter has worked the clay into its intended shape. Often the process is completed by the pot being placed in a kiln to heat it, helping it to solidify and keep its shape.
The more I reflected on the process, the more I began to think about what the clay feels during all of this. By adding some imagination and personification to the inanimate clay glob, I was able to better understand what it might feel: spun, stretched, pulled, pinched, and squeezed. The process sounds painful and difficult. After being placed on the rotating plate, the clay would feel its head spinning, and next it would wonder where to turn. As it continued to spin, it would be stretched out of its comfort zone, pulled in different directions, and be pinched and pressured by unexpected forces.
If the clay blob could feel pain, I’d be willing to bet this process would hurt. However, without it the clay could not become what the potter intended. After the painful process, the clay would come out better than before. It would be molded and shaped into what it was intended to be, a clay pot. Instead of a glob of mud, it would be a useful tool.
In the same way, growth and progress toward becoming what God intends us to be may not be an easy process for us. Just like the clay, we may have a process that will take time and may be filled with many painful moments along the way. It is not easy, but the growth and progress that result from God’s molding and shaping us are more than worth it.
How has God shaped you?
As the year draws to a close, how are you feeling? Has 2019 been your year, or has it been full of challenges, struggles, and pain for you?
Injuries, struggles with academics, conflicts with family, friends, and/or significant others, and the general stresses of life; if you have faced any, or maybe even all of these issues this year, you may feel like your head is spinning. You may feel stretched out of your comfort zone. You may be pulled in different directions and feeling the pressure of the circumstances of life. You might even have more questions than answers about what is happening.
However, without adversity, we could not learn the lessons and experience the growth God has for us. Like the clay, we experience pain which shapes and molds us into who we were made to be. Jesus, the potter, uses the pain and trouble we go through to expose flaws and impurities in our clay that need to be worked out and addressed. As we are spun, stretched, pulled, and pinched, we gain a better understanding of God’s grace, love, and the purpose He has for our lives.
The process is ongoing and will continue as long as we live. We won’t become the completed pots we are intended to be on this side of eternity, but we can sure head in that direction. Like the clay, we are still being molded and shaped into who we are supposed to be. The process can still hurt as we are convicted of sin and shown the flaws in our own priorities and ways of thinking.
Adversity can serve as a daily reminder that God’s dreams, goals, and plans for us are so much better than our own and that He has something great in store for us. You might still have many questions about your own struggles, but relinquishing control and trusting in God’s promises in His Word can give you a renewed sense of direction and remind you of your purpose as a follower of Christ: to live a life loving God, loving people, and sharing Jesus with them.
If you are feeling the pain of being molded into the metaphorical pot God has intended you to be, you are not alone. Even though it hurts, we can trust that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). God will see us through the pain and use it to help us experience growth and change. God has something in store for each of us, something for our good (Romans 8:28) and His glory.