There are times when I am fantastic at surrender, when I wholeheartedly accept His grace lavished on me as willingly as I seem to offer it, floating on waves of joy that He is running the show, beautifully, perfectly. These times are rare, at best. Because mostly I stink at it, this letting go of control.
And usually I find myself waiting on the world to behave in the way I expect, the way I would. I find I am completely guilty of waiting impatiently for this person to change, or that person to draw near to God. For this child to obey or that one to be a peacemaker. I catch myself squinting through my critical lens wondering why… why he won’t stand up and lead or she won’t sit down and receive or why this is all so stinkin’ hard.
“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
His word hits my heart and I double over in humility.
I am not the Potter. I am merely clay and there is much molding left to do. Much.
Recently, I witnessed a woman throwing clay on a wheel as she discussed the process … a potter explaining her craft. Something struck me as I watched her that I never really applied to the image I hold of God’s clay throwing skills. It’s. so. very. intimate. And every potter begins with the end in mind. Before the potter’s hands have ever touched the clay, he has thought about the purpose his creation will serve.
Will it be a pitcher? It will need a handle and spout, pressure in just the right places at just the right times to take shape. Will it be a bowl? It will need just the right pressure at just the right time to form a wide, open cavity ready to be filled. And the clay will crumble if the potter does not master the timing and weight as He applies the pressure.
The pressure comes from the hand of the Potter. His hand supporting the clay as He pushes in. His fingerprints all over His creation as He leans in close, exhaling his labor breaths all around, eyes fixed on the transformation, fingers working the shape continuously.
The hand of God. The breath of God. All over us. All over me. His gentle touch that presses me to serve the purpose He created me for, that He planned before the wheel ever started turning. Over time, with pressure to take shape for eternity. An intimate labor of love.
Pressure. Push here. Now. For this long. Stop before the clay collapses. Uncomfortable, sometimes painful pressure. Sometimes tools are required to cut away excess clay that is not embodied in the purpose. And as He leans in close and exhales His goodness and purpose down the nape of my neck while He applies the pressure marking me with His fingerprints, am I focused on the Potter, on the sheer miracle that by His hand, I am being made new, for His glory? Or am I wondering when and how He will shape those around me?
As He holds me in His grip, He is attentive to my pressure points, ensuring I don’t crumble before my shaping is complete. In these moments, His touch graces my heart, molding me for eternity as I draw in the breath of God, as I am drawn to God.
And I realize that maybe that child isn’t obedient or this one isn’t a peacemaker or he won't lead or she won't receive because the Potter, He had to ease up before the clay collapsed. But He doesn’t leave His work unfinished. Soon, He will start spinning the wheel again, to finish what He started, with just the right amount of pressure at just the right time.