Tuesday, I wrote about how we feel when God says yes, or no, or wait. Any of those occasions could be prefaced by painful circumstances that cause us to cry out to God and say, “God do you see me here? What are you thinking? In the most trying times, when I was going through the worst circumstances of my life, where were you? Does any of this sound familiar? Especially in the days when God’s answer is wait. Just wait.
A couple weeks ago, I watched Day of Discovery program produced by RBC Ministries. I was intrigued by the familiar topic of the potter and the clay. Isaiah 64:8 says ”Yet Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we all are the work of Your hands.” I’ve heard that story all my life. The potter (God) takes a lump of clay (me) and puts me on the potter’s wheel, spins me around while dousing me with water, and shaping me into a masterpiece, fashioned for a unique purpose. Does that sound familiar?
Through the process, the master has this designer mindset that transforms an image into a vessel with all the qualities planned in advance, before the clay even arrived. Jeremiah 18:6 spells it out for God’s vision for his people. “He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” God has a plan for his people today, just as he did back in the days of Jeremiah the prophet.
Here’s what really caught my attention. The gentle shaping of the clay, constructing the sides to fit the base, twisting the handle or leaving it looped and serviceable, all of this creating purpose inside its shape. Characteristics – all unique; some through tender prodding, others subjected to deeper depressions. But the most beautiful ornate features came from pinches, scrapes, and gouges. Finally the potter gently applied the glaze with a loving guided hand to complete its designed purpose. I think God used the illustration of the potter and the clay so we could understand a little about his ways. This is how we want God to work on our design. We want slow, deliberate guidance, not too rough. If we must endure some pain along the way, like smoothing out a rough patch or covering a dried out crack, we want the action to be swift and precise. We want to be assured that no matter what we’re going through, God is close by, working all things out for us because we love him. Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The potter and the clay – a masterpiece.
What happens when our life is not defined that way? There’s another step in the process of creating that masterpiece. After all the planning, designing, forming, and painting the piece goes into the kiln. That’s right – that’s life. Instead of the calm, placid life we agree with, our circumstances are tumultuous and agonizing. At times we feel like the temperatures of our circumstances are rising and we are far beyond the boiling point. Where is God then? We are going through fire and we feel like God has abandoned us. Did he just walk away and leave us in our distress? What does the potter do in these times? When the potter puts his fully formed masterpiece into the kiln, that’s when he watches most closely. The temperature in a kiln reaches over 1500 degrees. The potter can’t risk being far away or being distracted. Think about it for a moment. Remember how David sang about being relieved from his distress over and over in the Psalms. Just as the potter watches and protects his masterpiece when the kiln is fired to its hottest temperature, so these are the life times when God watches, tends, and protects his children, his masterpieces. Psalm 120:1 “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.”
We have to remember to trust God in the dark for what he promised us in the light. It’s so easy for us to be distracted by the frenetic pace of life. We are prodded, chinked, and scored. We crave tranquility and we get turmoil. We just want things to calm down, but we’re stuck in heated fury. When our spiritual tanks get drained dry, I wish we had a robot audibly beeping ‘Warning, Warning, Warning.” like on that old 60s TV show ‘Lost In Space’. We don’t have a robot, but we do have the guidance of God’s word, filled with promises that last a lifetime.
Proverbs 6:20-22 “My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.”
It’s a battlefield out there. Not a physical battle, but it’s real and when the heat is turned up, remember that God is still in control, nothing happens to you that doesn’t first pass through his hands, he has control of the temperature gauge. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. “
Jeremiah 32:38-40 “I’ll bring them all back to this place and let them live here in peace. They will be my people, I will be their God. I’ll make them of one mind and heart, always honoring me, so that they can live good and whole lives, they and their children after them. What’s more, I’ll make a covenant with them that will last forever, a covenant to stick with them no matter what, and work for their good. I’ll fill their hearts with a deep respect for me so they’ll not even think of turning away from me.”
Wednesday, I went on an adventure. Nobody else might consider it an adventure; but to me, it was like being taken from the kiln and released to cool air; no burns, no scorches, at just the right time. For months I have wanted to meet Becky Robinson, the owner of Weaving Influence. (http://weavinginfluence.com) God has been watching, tending and protecting me – and just when I was tempted to think he wasn’t paying attention, God opened the door. Now what does this mean in a tangible way? I’m not sure because I have only this moment. I can’t see into the future. But I know that in God’s sovereignty, he orchestrated that event. I have no doubt that he will orchestrate anything that comes from it.