Our Potter Works with “Living Clay”

Making Your Own Clay

Ground with cracked, dry reddish clay soil.The clay that potters use is a type of soil often found by rivers and streams. Most artists buy all their pottery supplies, but certain purists like to grab a shovel and dig their own clay.

Refining the clay into a useful form is a multi-day process. First, if the clay is damp, it’s dried in the sun. Then the potter crushes all the dirt clots into fine powder. Later, using plenty of water, he or she creates a slurry with the clay and pours it through a series of sifting screens to remove debris. Afterwards the excess water is gently evaporated. This creates clay of the right consistency, for hand-shaping objects or throwing pots on the potter’s wheel.

The Divine Potter

The Scriptures often use the analogy of a potter and his clay, to talk about how God shapes and molds His people

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NIV)

Potter's hands shaping clay on a potter's wheel.The Holy Spirit’s goal for each of us is Christ-likeness. He wants us to mirror Jesus’ response to every person and every situation. Of course, because we are “living clay,” we can either help or hinder the divine Potter’s work.

In fact, if we are truly determined to, we can remain ugly, unhappy, shapeless “lumps of clay” for years—but I wouldn’t recommend it. 

God’s plans for me have always been better than my own.

He Shapes “Living Clay”

There is nothing mystical about how God heals old emotional wounds, confronts our sin, and changes us into true servants of both Christ and people. As we walk with Him, He’ll address every scar, sin and character issue we have. Our part in the process is to be obedient to His commands and promptings.

Reluctantly Obedient

I’ve found the Holy Spirit to be very practical. When I came to know Jesus as my Savior and Lord, my life reflected a horrible mixture of arrogance and low self-esteem. The Holy Spirit immediately started addressing both issues. For instance, He started convicting me to go and apologize to people I’d hurt and admit I was wrong. Aggggggh! Talk about painful! I’d stomp off, irritated and reluctant and mumble, “I’m sorry” several times a week.

Luckily, grumpy, bad-tempered obedience is still…obedience. Even though my fleshly nature pitched an emotional fit each time, I still reaped the benefits God intended.

Terracotta army of 1st Emperor of China.Apologizing is terribly humbling. If you’ve never suffered from the sin of pride, you might not be aware that proud people don’t apologize—ever! Yet just obeying God in that small way started to break me free of a lifelong sin 

And I soon discovered having a humble heart and mind brought new freedom and peace to my soul.

So, am I a humble person now, totally free of the sin of pride? Nope. But I am light-years ahead of where I was. At least now when pride starts rising up, I recognize it. 

The healing of my poor self-image came a different way; through meditating on the Word of God.

The Hidden Power of God’s Word

Looking back, I had a key advantage as a young Christian. From the beginning, I was taught that the Holy Scriptures were divinely inspired. So I took what the bible said very seriously.

Over the years, the Holy Spirit has used bible passages to give me a deeper understanding of God’s nature. He has guided, corrected, comforted and rebuked me with scripture too. 

In fact, the author of Hebrews speaks of the inherent power of God’s written Word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
The Potter’s Healing Touch

The potter's hands shape the clay on the wheel.Did I mention my damaged self-worth? My parents often affirmed me—but the kids at school seldom did. I was socially awkward. Unpopular. One of the last people to get picked for anything.

So when I came to Christ, I had no sense of being valued by the Lord. I truly believed I was just part of the “Michigan quota to get saved” that year. 

Two years after I came to know Christ, I lived in Minneapolis one summer, studying biblical doctrines at a Navigator Christian training program. My team leader, Jan, saw my wounded self-image and began having me meditate on certain scriptural verses about God’s love. One verse in particular stood out and I memorized it.

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4 RSV)

Let me share with you the understanding the Holy Spirit gave me for this verse.

“Because you are precious in my eyes…” I am special in God’s eyes, just because He decided to count me as special.

“…and honored, and I love you…”  The Lord decided to honor me and love me—because He wanted to.

“…I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.” Except Jesus didn’t exchange other people for me. Instead He gave Himself to ransom me back from the enemy, so I could spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

Potter shapes a clay bowl on the wheel.The wounds in my soul healed because I meditated often on these types of scriptures.

Soak your mind in the scriptures about any subject and over time the Holy Spirit will move that truth from your head down into your heart. Instead of bland intellectual agreement, you’ll come to deeply believe a new truth about yourself or God or the world around you.

Today, I deeply understand that I am precious to God. I’ve been handpicked to spend eternity as His daughter. I know I didn’t do anything to earn His love and I can’t do anything to lose it.

Three Types of “Living Clay”

There are three types of “living clay” and each category of believer has a different working relationship with the Potter. The good news is “living clay” can change its response to the Potter’s shaping hand.

1) Soft Living Clay-These believers are very pliable in the Potter’s hands; He can sculpt these Christ-followers easily. Christians who are “soft clay” often have come to trust the Lord in a deeper way, because they’ve experienced His goodness. They’ve blindly obeyed the Holy Spirit’s promptings before, and seen Him be faithful. There’s a trust in the Lord which has deepened and grown, out of the believer’s personal experience.

2) Hard and Stiff Living Clay-The fewer experiences you have with God, the more you lack trust in Him. I believe almost all baby Christians start out as “stiff living clay;” I certainly did. Using the scriptures, the Holy Spirit often challenges us to move outside our comfort zone and step out in faith. At first, my tendency was to be self-protective. When negative emotions flared up, I paid more attention to my fears and anxieties, then to God’s wishes. I often resisted the Potter’s shaping hand.

3) Gravel Filled Living Clay-These believers tend to be very nice people. But they refuse to be “sifted” by the Word of God. Unfortunately, having dismissed the bible as “just another book, written by men” they reject any verse or spiritual truth they don’t yet understand or agree with.

A potter made of clay forms clay pots.So the lies planted within our culture by the enemy—the bits of grass, stray twigs and gravel—remain embedded in this third type of “living clay.”

Because there is no divine standard of truth to measure themselves by, these believers are left to determine what’s good or evil and how they should live their lives.

This living clay “shapes” itself and the image it comes up with frequently resembles whatever the current culture proclaims is “good.”

Sometimes they even seek to shape God in their own image, by proclaiming He approves of everything they do. Unfortunately they’ve forgotten a key truth.

He’s the Potter. We are the clay.

All Images from Pixabay.com.

Resources:

In this video, potter Graham Sheehan shows how to dig and process your own clay. Click here. (This video is about nine minutes long.)

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