Don't Be A Lump

I went to a ladies' conference yesterday. The speaker was a potter, and she illustrated several very simple yet profound truths with her potter's wheel. I'm still thinking about them today, and I shared some of it with my sister last night.

The way she spoke to the group was very effective. There were probably 40-50 women there, but I felt that she spoke to me alone, although of course she was not looking at me the whole time. As a matter of fact, she probably didn't look directly at me very much at all, since I was sitting over to the side. But her demeanor, and the way she spoke, were so intimate and relaxed I felt as if we were close friends discussing life over a cup of coffee.

She spoke of the similarities between her creating lovely things from clay, and God's process of turning us from lumps of clay into useful, honorable vessels. I don't know if I have the ability to communicate the impact her words had on me, and on my friend. I can't speak for the other ladies; I didn't know any of them nor did I speak to them in any depth.

But her impact on me was such that I have already told several people of her lesson, and one of the ladies in my small group has asked me to find out more information about her studio which is in a town an hour or two away. We may take a group of ladies to her studio, to have a lesson or four as we are able. There's a winery across the road where we can have lunch. I'll call her this next week to get more particulars.

In any case, one thing which is sticking with me is the way she worked on a lovely bowl while she was speaking, doing something which we could not determine. In addition to making seemingly random patterns with a strange-looking tool, she poked her fingers from the outside toward the inside of the bowl, and said a bit later that it probably looked like cellulite to us. When she finished, she held the bowl up so that we could see the intricate design of grapes and leaves which she had incised on the inside of the bowl.

Nearly all of the ladies oohed and aahed over its beauty, and gasped with dismay when she smashed the bowl back into a glob of clay.

Her point was that until the clay had undergone all of the necessary steps, it was not durable. After a lump of clay is fashioned into the vision in the potter's mind, with the potter's hands, it must sit and wait until it is ready for the first firing. If it is put into the fire too soon, it explodes. Then it is adorned with glazes, and the final firing makes those glazes bubble and hiss and boil and finally form a smooth coating of beauty.

How many of us are content to stay that lump of clay, unwilling to be shaped and molded and put into the fire? I'm probably not the only one who does not like to be stretched and changed - it's painful! And I certainly do not look forward to the fire. However, I think I can usually say that I can see that the fire produces wonderful results, when I look back over how He has allowed circumstances to test me. And I can say with certainty that I trust Him to protect me through the fire, and I know that He has a reason for all of it.

How about you? Can you see where the fires in your life have shaped you into someone who can be used for His glory? Do your stories show His goodness shining through the pain of Him changing you into a useful vessel?

I wouldn't wish that anyone experience the loss of a spouse in order to grow closer to God. I wouldn't want anyone to lose a spouse for anything. It stinks, and it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. But here's the thing. I have grown closer to God. I have matured in my Christian walk. Maybe it took my husband dying to get me to grow up. I might have done it eventually on my own, but who's to say there isn't something God wants me to do sooner rather than later? Maybe He allowed circumstances to get me off my backside and get on with the program, His program. I may never know this side of Glory, and it won't matter once I get there.

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