Playing in the Creek Bed
“Playing in the Creek Bed”
I’m pretty sure that everyone should have had a grandma and a grandpa like ours. Darleen and I would get to visit one or two weeks in the summer, and we always looked forward to it. Grandma was probably our favorite. She was an intelligent woman; I have often thought that her love for books was her legacy, as we all nearly lust over the treasure of a good book. In fact, my earliest memories include Grandma and books. Darleen and I would sit on her lap as she read the Adventures of Uncle Wriggly. When the story lost its magic, we would play with the hanging fat on her arms, or ask about the mole above her eye. She was never impatient, and she never seemed to tire of those times anymore than we did.
It’s funny the things that become memories: Grandma’s early-morning whistling along with the sound of her old wringer washing machine; sitting under the apple tree, performing some off-the-cuff play or concert, knowing that Grandma was the best audience ever; rummaging through Daddy’s old report cards in the attic or playing dominoes--- we rarely fell bored.
I may never know how my grandfather obtained such a nickname, but everyone in Steuben County knew him as Bus. My grandfather was a quiet, unassuming man, who probably never had an enemy in his whole life. When a man lives his entire life in one small town, it seems to me that the only way to maintain the love and respect of all would be to have lived that life with honest integrity. Even those who worked on the construction crew knew to put in an honest day’s work when Bus worked with them. Grandpa was not an overly-educated man, but wise well beyond most. He was tall and fit, with the biggest hands I’ve ever seen on a man. He was one who could have surely held up in a barroom brawl, yet would have had the wisdom to avoid the brawl in the first place.
Not only were my grandparents the ideal picture of what grandparents should be, they lived in the ideal place. They lived along what was once Route 17 somewhere between Jasper and Greenwood. Highlighting the picturesque piece of property was a pretty little yellow house. We’d sit on the front porch, waiting for the many truck drivers to pass by, motioning for them to honk their loud horns. Sometimes, we‘d each pick a color, and count the cars of our color as they passed. Grandpa usually picked orange; he never won our contests.
Around Grandma and Grandpa’s house were beautiful fruit trees that we would occasionally attempt to climb. But our favorite pastime was swimming in the creek behind the house. We could sit down on the creek bank for hours, playing house, or whatever other game entered our minds.
One of my favorite parts of the creek was playing in the clay. Sometimes we would cover ourselves completely, then feel our skin tighten as the reddish-brown substance dried. After it had dried, we’d swim around a bit until we had cleaned ourselves off. Like those who pay a lot of money for such spa treatment, we would then marvel at how soft our skin felt.
It was also fun to create works of art out of the natural material. We’d make little bowls or cups or creatures. When they pleased us, we’d let them harden in the sun. But sometimes, we’d smash them flat and start all over again.
Since that time, I’ve realized that I am not the creator, but the created. God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to observe the work of the potter’s hand. The potter worked and reworked the clay until he created “as it seemed good for the potter to make.” God then showed Jeremiah that we are the clay and He is the potter. God can make us into whatever He desires. Sometimes, that requires smoothing out our rough spots and reshaping our hearts. When we accept Him as our Creator, and view ourselves as His creation, we can also accept the pain that may come from the reshaping process.
It has been my life observation that I am not very good at accepting God as God. I proclaim Him as Lord with my mouth; I serve Him with my actions. When He chooses to reshape me, however, I often resist. In His Sovereignty, God will make me into the creation that He intends even if I choose to resist. The real question is whether I will be malleable in His hands, or if I will become hardened. Hardened clay can also be reshaped—but it then requires a chisel. When I accept God as the Potter, He can make me the person that He wants me to be without painful chiseling.
The concept that seems inconceivable to me is that God would take the time to want to mold me into His masterpiece. I would not have taken the time to create those little pieces of pottery on Grandma and Grandpa’s creek bank if I had not delighted in the project. Likewise, God delights in me, therefore taking the time to shape and reshape my life. When I think about that, I can accept the work He does in my life as extraordinary—my Savior knows what I can become, and then takes the time to make me that person. If He’s willing to do the work, I am compelled to trust Him in that work.
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