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The Potter's Wheel
Photo: Marja Flick-Buijs
Rick and his wife were artists who lived in an old farm house near my home growing up. I loved to visit them. They were potters who made their living with their hands, their hearts, and their artistry. In the back of their home was a small, but ample studio where their incredible creations took a variety of shapes. From coffee cups and saucers, to intricate vases, their love and craftsmanship was visible in every item that they produced. No wonder their items commanded such a high price all over the world.

They made it look so simple but after trying my hand on the pottery wheel in high school, I came to understand that it is anything but easy. The clay has to be prepared prior to its turn on the wheel, and its consistency and workability need to be just right. The thick, lifeless lump has to be properly centered on the potter’s wheel, and as it begins to turn faster and faster, the right amount of pressure must be applied to bring shape and continuity to it.

My first attempts at making something beautiful were disasters, but after some practice I recognized that good pottery takes time, patience, and a willingness to keep working at it. Most of the time I would go back to the kneading table and start over. I put in hours on the pottery wheel, and then one day I watched in wonder as a vase emerged almost magically between my slurry covered hands. It was a magnificent moment that I will never forget. 

Simple and Useful

My mother still has the vase, and keeps flowers in it from time to time. When I look at it now, it seems quaint and simple, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Its beauty lies in its usefulness and in the thought that it was made with loving care. It is a vessel that honors my hard work in school.

It reminds me of the analogy that God often uses in Scripture about how the Great Potter creates something beautiful of our lives.

“So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away on his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot” (Jeremiah 18:3,4).

Before we come to our Creator, our lives resemble raw potter’s clay, misshapen and misunderstood. But the Potter sees beauty in every lifeless lump, and through the pressure of eternal, loving hands, our spiritual “shape” changes.  It takes work and time on the “wheel,” but the Potter continues to mold and shape us until we become vessels of honor and usefulness. It’s a continual process, but one that brings eternal beauty to our lives.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the THE MESSAGE / REMIX ®

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