Have you ever watched a potter work? It is fascinating! To witness the transformation of a lump of clay into a gorgeous shining object of service or art is well worth one’s time.
My eldest daughter fell in love with a student potter while they were in college. I had envisioned her marrying a Bible major and returning to the mission field where she had already spent one year. I had never envisioned her marrying a potter. One day while visiting with her, she asked if I had ever seen him work. Of course I had not. I had not seen any potter work. She convinced me to go to the school and watch. I left there with an entirely different view of the calling he had chosen and of him as well.
In the years since then, he has traded his work in the clay of the soil to working with clay of the soul. However, the discipline he learned and the fervor of the work of transformation has served him well in both vocations. The whole concept of transformation is so vital in the role of turning lumps of clay into vessels of beauty.
Interestingly, the Scriptures often use the metaphor of potter and clay to describe God and His creation. It is so fitting as we compare the undeveloped individual with the finished product of the Master Potter. I often, in speaking privately with a struggling husband in marriage counseling, confide that it is not unusual to begin by viewing one’s self as a clod. That is a little more crude than saying "lump of clay," but it often gets their attention. If we remain just a clod, our contribution to life will continue to be viewed as worthless as dirt. However, if in the hands of the potter, we are molded into a vessel of use and beauty, we become an object of inestimable worth.
The transformation from a handful of dirt to an object of use and beauty is exactly what God is doing every day in the lives of His children. It is almost beyond belief to me that God has chosen not only to mold and shape us, but also to use us as repositories of His great saving message. The Apostle Paul wrote, "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7 NRS). The power is never in the clay! The influence and power to mold, change, and transform is always in the hands of the Potter! Rather than cheapen our value, we are made of greater value. We are transformed from a handful of dirt to an object of use and beauty, and all because of the Potter, not because of ourselves.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, "And yet, LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand" (Isaiah 64:8 NLT). Perhaps Paul says it best when he writes, "And we all ... beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18 RSV). Transformed or molded, it matters little what it is called, as long as we are being changed, by the Potter’s hands, from clay to collectables!