Monday, March 21, 2011
What kind of clay are you? (Potter's Hand by Hillsong)
(To watch video, you will need to pause the music on my blog music player).
I woke up this morning thinking about something I very slightly touched on in a previous post.
If God is the potter and I am the clay, what kind of clay am I?
Isaiah 64:8 tell us that "Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."
As a mom of three (with one being a 4 year old), there has been so much playdough in our home through the years. If I really think about it, for at least the last 12 years there has ALWAYS been an open can in our house or a homemade batch in a bag on the counter or in a container in the refrigerator. I know that many people think of clay as in pottery clay and I'm sure that is probably the more appropriate use of the word.....but playdough is what comes to my mind at this season in my life.
I think about how exciting it is for the kids (we've most recently witnessed this in our Sunday school class with three year olds) to open up a brand new can of fresh playdough. Popping off the lid reveals a perfect playdough. It has a recognizable smell, the colors are brilliant, and the texture is just amazingly perfect. It's soft and pliable with no effort. Even I can hardly resist the temptation to roll it around in my hands. It's practically addicting!
On the flip side, what about opening a can that is dried out. It's hard as a rock and crumbly. You can't shape it into any of the shapes you envision. Perhaps, you MIGHT can get it to soften a bit if you REALLY work hard at it. You might can add a few drops of water or oil and make it somewhat pliable. It might even be crusty on the outside, but on the inside you might find a portion of soft, pliable substance.
With a new can, you pop that lid off knowing what color is inside. With a not so new can, you just may be surprised with what you find. The color you THOUGHT would be inside may actually be a different color. Even more likely is the fact that it may be a hodge podge of many various colors.
The question rolling around in my head the last few days and most especially this morning was what kind of can am I? When God opens the lid on my soul, what does he find? When I'm interacting with my husband and children, what do they see? On an even deeper level, what do strangers see? What do my "enemies" or difficult relationships see? Beginning to feel a little toe stepping on going on in my heart. Ouch---going to have to have some steel toe shoes at this rate!
Just this past week, a sweet friend of ours in ministry at church gave Bradlee a little treat size can when he stopped by to visit her. We were barely even in the van before the lid was off and he was rolling it in his hands and laughing at all of the things he could make out of it. I even had to squeeze in a few minutes to play with it (though I did fortunately get a chance to play with it BEFORE he began to make a mold of his nose and ears!).
I think our faith is like that. It's fresh and new in the beginning and we can't wait to share it with others. We can feel God shaping us and it isn't painful so much. We are pliable and soft. However, before long I quickly become like the majority of playdough in our house. The kind that is beginning to dry out but yet not completely unworkable.
Real life enters the picture and our faith may begin to take a few dings. We may begin to face struggles we didn't think we would have to face with God by our side. After all, God loves us and our lives are going to be perfect, right? Not exactly. Relationships may be broken. Jobs may be lost or gasp *downsized*. Those we love may continuously turn their backs on Christ. Marriage may be harder work than we expected, Mr. Perfect may walk away from us, or Mr. Perfect may be not so perfect after all. Our kids may face obstacles we were unprepared for. We may find ourselves in a life we didn't expect. People may drag us down and hurt us emotionally and physically. People may find pleasure in trying to knock us down so they can appear stronger and taller. Death may take away someone we love. Illness may knock at our door and not go away. The list could go on indefinitely. The point is....the lid on our playdough may get left off a little here and there and we can begin to dry out.
At this point in my life (and I've been here before), I feel like God has taken me and rolled me around and shaped me in so many different ways that the dough is beginning to resist being shaped. I'm the dough that is a bit hard on the outside, but with work it becomes soft and pliable. God hasn't stopped shaping me and he hasn't given up on molding me into that image He has in his head. Though I may not be able to shape a ball of clay into what I picture in my own head, He can. He's an artist at work and He can do what everyone thinks impossible.
As long as I let him continue to shape me, EVEN through and MOST especially during the painful rolling out process, I know He can return me to like-new condition. I just can't resist Him and become like the can that is so dried out and crumbles when you pick it up. If I don't turn over the hurts, anger, disappointments, bitterness, fear and doubts to God, I will quickly become so hard that I will crumble at the slightest touch of resistance. Though I may feel broken and overwhelmed many days, those pieces of crumbling playdough can still be worked back into the soft parts under God's hands. Choosing to turn those little pieces (even though they may feel like BOULDERS!) over to his loving hands full of unconditional love is the only way to turn this clay into a workable, moldable medium. Once that happens, He is able to mold me (and you!) into the vision He had in His heart when he spoke me into existence. He had a plan even then and will stop at nothing to see it fulfilled.
I can NEVER listen to the song Potter's Hand by Hillsong without having to stop and just let the words wash over me. The words of the songs are the prayer of my heart.
Though the sharing of this last story will make this another really lengthy post, I can't resist because it's weighing heavy on my heart that someone needs to hear it even if they've heard it before. It's the story of the cracked pot that originated in India.
A water-bearer carries two large pots on a yoke across his shoulders up the hill from the river to his master's house each day. One has a crack and leaks half its water out each day before arriving at the house. The other pot is perfect and always delivered a full portion of water after the long walk from the river.
Finally, after years of arriving half-empty and feeling guilty, the cracked pot apologized to the water-bearer. It was miserable. "I'm sorry that I couldn't accomplish what the perfect pot did."
The water-bearer says, "What do you have to apologize for?"
"After all this time, I still only deliver half my load of water. I make more work for you because of my flaw."
The man smiled and told the pot. "Take note of all the lovely flowers growing on the side of the path where I carried you. The flowers grew so lovely because of the water you leaked. There are no flowers on the perfect pot's side."
Some people have jokingly and perhaps even hurtingly called me a "crack-pot" through the years because of choices I have made or something "crazy" I have done in their opinions. I may not be a crack-pot, but I am a cracked pot. However, there is beauty and purpose in a broken vessel. It's just a matter of letting God use what is broken and let Him take those flaws and make something amazing from it. I may be at this point feeling like by the time I get anywhere that I have NO WATER left in my pot because it's leaking and I'm drained, but God knows how to turn that into something He can use. If nothing else, He knows how to refill the pot and patch the leaks!