Reading: Isaiah 29:13-16
One of the most interesting toys in our home is an electric child’s pottery wheel that was given to us by a relative. It’s been great fun learning how to make things on it. However, pottery is not something that is undertaken easily. Have you ever looked at a piece of pottery? Perhaps in your home there is a cookie jar, clay jug, or some other shaped vessel. Even a plate is an amazing thing if you think about it ~ to think that a perfect circle could be formed so smoothly and evenly! I didn’t appreciate this until I attempted to make one of my own.
Pottery clay is a tricky thing. Ours came in a plastic bag and we had to cut off chunks of it that could be easily managed. Then it had to be kneaded and warmed by our hands so that it would be pliable enough to work with. We had to squeeze the air bubbles out of it and, sometimes, drip water onto it to make it the right consistency ~ not too wet and not too dry. The children were impatient. When could they use the pottery wheel? “Not yet, for if you tried to make something of this clay before it’s ready, it would not form properly. There would be air bubbles in your piece which would make it less strong.”
Finally, we could put our lump of clay on the wheel and start it spinning. The clay felt so nice and cold in our hands. But oh, what was happening ~ the wheel spun too quickly, we’ve pressed too much on this side, and now our piece is turning into a cone. Stop the wheel… mash the clay… start over. This happened many times.
We were able to make two lumpy little bowls that day. One is painted beautifully and sits on my kitchen counter, holding marbles and bracelets and game pieces, or whatever else I pick up from the kitchen floor for my children to put away. The other little bowl was dried and painted, but then promptly broke when we set it on the counter. We don’t know why. How sad to lose something for which we had worked so hard!
It’s no wonder that God compares our hearts to clay. Do they conform freely to His will? Do they struggle within His hands, wishing to follow their own tradition? Do they sin and show others by their behavior, “He did not make me”? Do they act like pretty little pieces but then shatter at the first sign of stress?
Now that I think about it, we haven’t used our pottery wheel since that first time. My children say it is too difficult. Perhaps in a few years they will have bigger hands ~ and more patience!
For Further Study:
- Read Jeremiah 18:1-12. How did God show the Israelites that He was “the potter”? How did His “clay” behave?
- Verses 13 and 14 from today’s reading are repeated in Matthew 15:8-9. Jesus used those verses to show that the Pharisees were hypocrites. They told others to follow God, but they did not follow God themselves Read the verses preceding these. What tradition were the Pharisees doing? What law of God were they breaking?
- What have you done lately to show that you are “good clay” in your Father’s hands? What have you done that may have declared to others, “He did not make me”? What can you pray about these things?