I thought I would share a great story from Anne Graham Lotz's book Just Give Me Jesus.
You have probably heard a rendition of this before.
"A good friend of ours enjoys making pottery. The process of transforming wet, pliable, dull gray clay into beautiful bowls and vases and jugs and plates is fascinating. Our friend begins with a shapeless blob, which he places on the potter's wheel. As he spins the wheel, he gently caresses the clay, applying pressure with his fingers and palms. Beneath his skillful touch, the turning clay responds to the varying degrees of pressure until it begins to take the shape of what he has in his mind, whether it's a vase or plate or bowl or pitcher.
When the shape pleases him, our friend removes the clay from the wheel. He then paints it with beautiful designs, but the colors are dull and lifeless. At that stage, the quality of the colors makes it unattractive, and the softness of the clay renders it useless. So our friend places it with other vessels into a kiln, where he bakes the pieces for hours in heat that reaches 1,700 degrees F. When the pottery emerges, not only is it strong enough to use, but its colors are also brilliantly vivid. The heat transforms the weak clay into a useful vessel and transforms the dull, ugly colors into radiant beauty.
And so it is with our lives. Jesus makes the suffering understandable; as the Potter, He uses suffering as the pressure on the wet "clay" of our lives. Under His gentle, loving touch, our lives are molded into a "shape" that pleases Him. But the shape that is so skillfully wrought is not enough. He not only desires our lives to be useful, but He also wants our character to be radiant. And so He places us in the furnace of affliction until our "colors" are revealed-colors that reflect the beauty of His own character.
Without the preparation of the loving, skillful touch of the Potter's hand, any usefulness or beauty the clay might have would be destroyed by the pressure and heat. But Jesus makes suffering understandable to this blob of clay. In the midst of the pressure and the heat, I am confident His hand is on my life, developing my faith until I display His glory, transforming me into a vessel of honor that pleases Him! I don't trust any other potter with my life."
Jeremiah 18:3-6 "Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel."
Lord, I pray everyday that as I yield myself to You, I become a vessel that is not only useful, but also reflects your glory. I confess that most days I feel like a big old blob of clay that you forgot to fashion into a beautiful vessel. I have such a long way to go, but I am so thankful that you have not given up on me. I am a work in progress.
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