He was the potter and we were clay who in our poverty yielded easily to His hands desiring to be made into something better.
Our lives were often thrown into a spin as we all struggled against the desire of the master potter to make us vessels pleasing to Him; we often felt crushed as life pounded us as a family but he never allowed us to be defeated. We often felt as though we were drowning but it was only the master re-shaping our lives so that we would be like Him.
I remember a vision that the Lord gave me one evening, I was told to go to the potter’s house and to watch the potter at work; I cautiously opened the creaking excuse for a door peering into the gloom for a sign of life and saw the hands of the potter putting the finishing touches to a new vessel. I admired his work from the doorway not daring to venture beyond in case of a rebuke for my interruption of such a defining moment.
Suddenly hands that once caressed and created became fists that destroyed as with determination the potter smashed the clay until it was without beauty again. Water became the source of life for clay that had died to its former beauty and pride, living water took dried up old clay and made it live again, thumbs became instruments of torture, fingers gouged great tracks in the clay before beginning again. Fingers entwined the clay, rough hands roughed it, pummelled it until it was ready to live again this time for the master and not for self, it was to become the unprofitable servant it had always been.
Within minutes it stood silently before the master not daring to say ‘look at me I am a pot’ the potter smiled as the wheel finally stopped spinning, satisfied He separated it from the wheel and placed it on a nearby bench.
How like us and our relationship with God I remember thinking, we are His creation, he is the potter we are the clay and yet we seek out the accolades of men and by doing so rob God of the praise that is His alone. Just when we think we have made it to the top of the heap he makes us a heap again, mere clay who need to be changed yet again.
I looked over the potters shoulder as my eye grew accustomed to the gloom, a shaft of light from a broken plank which formed part of the side wall revealed a sad sight. Pots, vessels of every hue and shape lay in a heap; cobwebs shimmered across the once proud mouths as hungry spiders awaited with patience their next meal, mould and algae grew on those who had been there for years as stubborn, as rejected, as contaminated as they had always been. Instead of being sorry for their pitiful state they wore the dirt and dust like a medal given for stubbornness and courage they had fought the fight and had never given in to the promptings of the master to change their ways.
I felt a tear drip silently off the end of my nose before my hand could react to the rolling watershed, the master viewed the tear as it began to melt into the dust at my feet before gathering it and placing it tenderly inside a bottle labelled ‘Memorials’
Why? I asked daringly, why do you not pick them up and make them new like you did the last pot you threw. He smiled again, smiled at my furrowed brow, smiled at my faith stretched thoughts before saying ‘these are they who were hard, too dry and over filled with self importance, these are vessels that all the water in the world could not change’
‘Lord all things are possible for you’ I argued ‘not so for I can do no great miracles when they that I create refuse to change. ‘They were not marred by my own hands rather by their stubborn hard hearts, I called them to change but they did their own thing and considered themselves without need of me and so I gave them over to be scattered in days of calamity’
I felt all the ‘butt’s’ begin to fall like the dust from the side of the table, every argument swamped by the awesome waste of effort and love that the creator had placed into the lives of the ‘left aside’
‘Left aside’ what a destiny to settle for, they could have been vessels, pots that served in the masters house and yet they settled for a dirty heap in a dirty corner, they could have graced His table at the great supper of the lamb but chose to stay in the corner. God, I remember thinking, never let me get so hard hearted that I refuse to do your will, so hard that all I would be fit for would be a dusty home for spiders, never let me become so bitter or so proud that I would ensnare others and with them end up in reject corner.
It was then as my eyes become accustomed to the darkest corners, just when I thought that nothing could be worse than what I had witnessed I saw the most dreadful sight, broken vessels, pots smashed to smithereens, once proud glazed pots, once a thing of beauty now a horror story well read of all.
I stood transfixed by the magnitude of the dreadful scene as truth kicked my own thoughts out of the way and gave me understanding. I knew instinctively that these were pots that had been through the fire and had been glazed; they had the master’s seal of approval, they bore his name, they had been seen as leaders and now they were fit only for the pit itself.
Time and time again the master had called them to himself placed them on the wheel, planted them in the furnace not just once but many times and yet today even their memory was erased. Some were vessels used in religious service, places of importance, some sat on the tables of the famous including kings and queens, all had one thing in common their lives had become rooted in bitterness and pride which cracked them.
The potter had been patient, long suffering with them, willing them to mirror his nature to everyone that used them but they became so proud of their position in life that they were smashed in front of others. They were so broken that they could not be made whole again, it was a warning that the slightest scar would not be tolerated at the Kings table and yet other vessels keep being filled with pride and prejudice.
I remembered pleading with the potter to remove every trace of bitterness and pride from my being; I never wanted to become so overcome by self that all I was fit for was filling a hole in the ground.
He smiled; this must be truly one of God’s greatest assets for smiling puts you at ease, clay at peace with divinity, the divine winking in fun because he knows what the future holds for every fallen sparrow and every lifeless lump of clay.
He may call on his own, his own may neglect him but he cannot deny himself; we may rebel as he places us on the potters wheel for what we hope and often pray will be the last time but trust him, he is making of each one of us a vessel to hold Holiness and to leak out mercy and grace.
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