I sit on the shelf patiently expecting and waiting my turn to become whatever the potter desires. The day finally arrives. He lifts me from the shelf and begins the creative process. Expectantly, I sit in the Master’s hands; He warms me as He gently kneads what has always been hard and unbending. My thoughts race. I dream of all that could be, now that He has chosen me. I imagine me as His vessel. What might I become?
The gentleness of His molding suddenly changes in intensity. He pours water over me, squeezing and pushing me into shapes I never expected. He adds more and more water as continual pressure increases, making it nearly impossible to breathe. Wait, this is not what I expected.
I am picked up in His warm hands once more, but this time I am unexpectedly slammed down onto a fast-moving object and my life spins-out-of-control while more water sloshes over and around me. All ability to think or understand what is happening to me vanishes. I only hold on and hope to survive this process.
Time seems to stop as this spinning continues. Without warning, the Masters’ hands reach down amid my whirling confusion; they encircle me, direct and move me where He desires. Something glorious is taking place; the spinning appears to be changing me. The old lump of clay that I was, is now transforming. My lost joy erupts with newfound anticipation of old dreams, dreams of becoming a vessel usable to the Master. The spinning and movement under His hands is exciting. This is it, what I have always waited for. I am becoming His beautiful creation.
The spinning slows and I am sure that I am complete, that I have made it. All that I have endured is over. It’s now time to “kick-back” and “be who He created me to be.” I am lovingly lifted off that uncomfortable spinning wheel and carried with great fan-fare across the vast room and placed at the back of a dark shelf. As day after day passes my excitement wanes. Ok, now what?
The Master seems to have forgotten me; waiting, waiting, and waiting as my once moist, pliable form becomes dry, hard, and crusty. Confusion settles over me as this new process continues. Then one morning He reaches in and pulls me down from the dark shelf, he turns me over inspecting closely every area. My Master has seen me again. He has not forgotten me. He sits with me and lovingly picks up small detail tools and carefully scrapes off the dried pieces that are “just not right” for His plans. It is uncomfortable, but I know these adjustments are coming directly from His hand and must be part of His ultimate process.
I feel the temperature change as the Master walks me across the room again, this time is different, this time the shelf is a rack and the dark quiet place is full of heat that grows stronger with every minute: I am sure I will not make it out of this one the same. I can’t do this anymore; this process is too difficult.
Days pass as I am again left alone, forgotten and struggling with questions, confusion and anxiety; crying out for this to end. Slowly, the heat subsides and fresh air swirls around me. I can breathe again. I notice a change in me, who I am, has solidified. A few more days pass as I rest in this newfound transformation, wondering—Now am I who I was created to be?
The Master again picks me up, dusts off what the heat drew out, turns me over and over in His hands as He admires what the heat has accomplished. We walk over to a new table and this one looks so beautiful; brushes and pots of exquisite shades of color cover it. He places me amongst them and chooses specific colors just for me, each brushstroke a gift. I receive each stroke with elation and expectation. This is His original plan, and I am overjoyed. This is it! I am ready. What does He want me to hold? My dreams of becoming His vessel for His glorious use have now arrived.
I sit and savor the experience of receiving all of His gifts and glory and observe what a beautiful vessel I have become. Yet, the Master returns and lifts me off the table again. I expect Him to place me on a beautiful shelf to be viewed, but I suddenly see Him taking me to a glowing hole. It is growing hotter as He places me on a board and slides me further into the hole. The fire’s heat intensifies and is worse than before. What is happening? I thought this process was complete! I am beautiful and have all of His gifts. Why am I here? What did I do?
As the heat becomes unbearable, something unexpected happens. Instead of fighting the process, something rises inside of me. The previous heat in my life unknowingly accomplished the strength to yield to this extra heat I face today. That faith in the Masters’ plan reached up from inside, accepted and fought forward, embracing whatever was to come from this process. This time, as the heat cools and the board slides into retrieve me, I no longer look at anything but the face of the Master as He smiles at what He removes from the fire. “Your will Lord, not mine. Use this vessel to pour out your love and glory to those around me. Fill me up and pour me out,” escapes from my heart to His.
This analogy of clay in the potter’s hands is much like our lives. We are continually in the process of pressure and heat, changing from who we are to who He wants us to become. The process may seem complete, yet until we hear “well done, good and faithful servant,” that process will continue to be a fight forward, a yielding and a transformation. Ultimately, we can only become a vessel for honorable use, when we can say, “Your will, Lord, not mine. Use this vessel to pour out your love and glory to those around me. Fill me up only to pour me out again.”