If I was the potter instead of the clay, what tools would I use to fashion a beautiful vessel? And what kind of vessel would I create? A lovely vase? An intricate teapot? Or perhaps a practical bowl?
I suppose the appropriate tools would depend on the desired vessel. No one vessel is better than another. Each serves a purpose and requires a different method of creation.
For a practical bowl, a spin on the potter’s wheel, with hands gently shaping, creating an opening, determining the depth with a press of the thumbs. Then a cut-off wire might level the top to the perfect height.
To create an intricate teapot might require a long, sharp instrument to bore a hole for the spout, a putty knife to attach the spout to the pot, and a caliper to ensure the lid is the right size to seal the top.
Designing a lovely vase I would begin on the potter’s wheel, but might need scrappers and ribs to perfectly shape the curve of this flower holder. And a plain side may not do, so a sharp needle and point chisel could be used to carve a delicate design resembling the very blooms it will one day display.
A slab of clay does not complain about such treatment, no matter how fast the wheel spins or how deep the sharp tools dig in. As long as it stays moist, the clay allows itself to be molded as I desire.
When I have finished shaping my vessel, into the kiln it goes to be fired at the proper temperature for the type of clay used. It might only require 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, or perhaps 2,400 degrees. The timing is important too, but still the clay does not complain, though it may break if fired incorrectly by an unskilled potter.
And that is the final ingredient for a valuable piece of pottery—the skill of the potter. Anyone can mold clay, but only one with great skill can craft a vessel of beauty and usefulness.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 (NIV).
I am not the Potter. I am only the clay. And because of the great skill of the Potter, I am being shaped into a beautiful and useful vessel.
The tool He uses is sometimes sharp; I complain because it digs deep to carve away a part that simply must go.
Other times He molds with His gentle hand as the wheel of life slowly turns.
Before I’m done, I know the kiln will come, as it has before. I’ll likely complain again because the heat seems unbearable. But it is necessary, as are all the Potter’s tools, if I am ever to be more than a hard lump of clay with no purpose.
How about you? Are you enduring the Potter’s sharp design instrument right now? Remember that He knows what He is doing, it is all for a purpose, and out of the molding will come beauty—that beauty will be you.