The Potter and the Clay :: By Nathele Graham

The Potter and the Clay

Hymns can be a great source of strength and encouragement when we need to keep our mind and heart on Jesus. One of my favorite hymns was written by Adelaide Pollard and is called “Have Thine Own Way.”

“Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way:
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.”

All things, including people, were created by God. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).

That’s simple to understand. In just a few days God created all that is, and His final creation on the sixth day was man. He formed Adam out of the dust of the earth and gave him a living soul. The word translated “formed” comes from the Hebrew word “yatsar.” This word appears a number of times in the Old Testament and always has the idea of creating something. Fashion, maker, and frame are a few of the English words translated from yatsar, and so is the word “potter.”

But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand (Isaiah 64:8).

A potter is a craftsman who takes a lump of clay and forms it into a useful vessel. The items formed may be a cup, a bowl, a vase, or a number of other useful objects; but the potter has the control. God, the Master Potter, formed man from the dust of the earth and in His own image. The love with which we are created is pure, and God has a purpose for each person. When we yield to His will, He will transform us into something useful and for His glory. Like a potter creating unique pieces of pottery, our Lord works in us to form us into unique and special people who yield to His loving hands.

A potter sees the potential in a lump of clay and he knows what there is a need for. It’s his discretion that determines what the clay should become. He divides the clay into smaller lumps in order to fashion what is needed. He takes one part of the clay, puts it onto the potter’s wheel, and begins the process of shaping that clay using his hands. When he finishes he may have a beautiful, ornate vase that will decorate the palace of a king.

The next lump is put onto the wheel, and the process begins again. With his skilled hands he might shape it into a useful object, but one that may not appear as beautiful as the vase. Perhaps it’s a common drinking vessel or a bowl from which to serve food. These aren’t glamorous objects, but are necessary and useful. The same potter used his skill to create both the beautiful vase and the common serving bowl.

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:20-21).  

When the Master Potter shapes us, He has a plan. Not everyone will be an ornate vase; most of us will be ordinary serving bowls. Before you criticize the Potter for how He has shaped you, understand that each person is essential to the furthering of God’s Kingdom, and a serving bowl has no lesser value to God than a vase.

The first step in yielding to the Potter is to accept Jesus Christ for salvation. When we come to Jesus, we come just as we are: sinners in need of a Saviour. We can’t get around that flaw of sin on our own. Jesus accepts and forgives the truly repentant person, and from the moment of salvation all your sins are forgiven.

While we live on this side of Heaven, we’ll continue to struggle against the desires of the flesh; but the goal of every Christian should be to become more like Jesus. We do that by recognizing our sin, asking forgiveness, and then putting that sin behind us. Yield self-will to the Potter and allow Him to mold and shape you after His will.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

The word “concupiscence” means a desire for what is forbidden, or lustful passion. Our desire should be for the things that God desires, not lusts of the flesh. We can only become more like Him by learning how to possess our vessel (our body and mind)…take our thoughts and actions captive and turn them over to the Master Potter. When we sin we need to recognize that sin and humble ourselves before the Lord; ask for His forgiveness and His help to overcome that sin.

When we first come to Jesus for salvation, we don’t understand that sin by human standards is very different than sin by God’s standards. We need to draw nearer to God’s standards. Our Master Potter loves us just as we are and will mend our flaws, but we need to turn our life over to Him and allow Him to shape us into the person He wants.

Once a potter has created the vessel, it’s time to strengthen it. If the clay is left on its own, it’ll be weak. Wet clay will collapse under the slightest pressure. If left to dry on its own, it will crumble as soon as it’s tested. A beautiful vase and a lowly serving bowl both need to be put into the kiln.

Christians face many times of testing, and sometimes the fire seems too hot. Maybe you face losing your job because you proclaim Christ as your Saviour. Maybe your family has rejected you because of your faith, or worse. A Muslim who turns from serving the demon god Allah and embraces Jesus Christ faces death.

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: …the father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Luke 12:51 & 53).

This division can be a harsh testing of faith. Family and friends may not understand, but you need to keep close to God through prayer and Bible study. Your faith may be the witness that brings someone you love to salvation. Testing will also come when the temptation to return to a sin becomes strong. At one time we didn’t understand that fornication, lying, or coveting are sins. Now that you’re a Christian, you need to resist sin.

Resisting temptation makes you stronger, just as a piece of pottery placed in a kiln becomes stronger. The more you yield to the Potter, the less of a hold sin has over you. Trust the Potter, and you will become stronger.

Contentment in life depends upon whether or not we are living within God’s will. Everyone has hopes and dreams, but when looking for a purpose in life, you need to look to God for answers. He has a purpose for you, so freely yield your will to His.

Scripture tells of many people who had their lives drastically changed when they discovered God’s plan for them. Abraham lived in the midst of idolatry until God called him to leave it behind. Because Abraham yielded to God he was used by Him to be the father of the nation of Israel.

Esther was a young Jewish woman whose life was interrupted when she was kidnapped by the Babylonian king’s men; and eventually she became the Queen. Because she yielded to God in spite of danger to herself, a plan to kill all Jews was thwarted.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John were ordinary fishermen who chose to follow Jesus. Because they yielded to God, the Gospel has been preached around the world.

Paul knew what he wanted to do in life. He studied under a master rabbi and learned his Jewish religion well. That wasn’t God’s will for him. When Paul met Jesus his life was dramatically changed and his passion was to share the Gospel.

Noah, Naomi, Ruth, David, Barnabas, Timothy, the woman taken in adultery, the demon- possessed man in Gadara, the Samaritan woman at the well, and many other people listed in Scripture are examples to us of how God takes a lump of clay and transforms it.

It’s important to yield to God and allow Him to mold you after His will. When looking for the ultimate example of yielding to God’s will, the best example is our Lord. Jesus was God in the flesh (God the Son), and He knew what He would suffer on the cross. He prayed to God the Father asking for another way to accomplish His purpose, but accepted the answer.

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42). There’s no greater example for us to follow.

Just as a potter shapes a lump of clay into a specific vessel, Christians need to allow Christ to shape us into what He desires for us. If it seems as if your path is too difficult to follow, look at the Master Potter’s hands. Look at the scars of love in the palms of His hands as He molds you and shapes you according to His will. He is the Potter, you are the clay.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

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All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

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