Several times in the Bible, we are referred to as clay, and God as the potter like in Isaiah 64:8. It says, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand” (NLT). I know that part of why God used the pottery analogy in the Bible was because it was a common thing that the people of that day could easily relate to. You and I don’t see it as much in our world, but the imagery still works.
If you’ve ever watched someone make pottery, there are several images like the one above that comes to mind. The first one that comes to mind is that to be perfectly balanced, we have to be in the center of His “wheel” or will. The wheel is spinning very quickly and unless you are in the center, you typically get thrown off or are wobbly at best. God’s desire for each of us is to be in the center of his will where He places us.
The next image I see is His hands on the clay as it spins. After a potter puts clay in the center of the wheel, He cups His hands around it to make sure it stays balanced. When God starts with each of us, we’re just a lump of unmolded clay. The first thing He does is place His hands around our life. He smooths out our lumps and tests our pliability. No matter how much things seem to be spinning out of control, we stay in God’s hands throughout the process.
After the potter smooths out the edges and has us balanced, he does something interesting. He uses his thumbs to empty the clay of itself, making it hollow. It’s exactly what God does to us. He empties us of ourselves so we can be filled with His love. The more we allow God to take out of us, the more we have room for Him and the things He wants to put in our lives. As I’ve watched potters do this process, they keep one hand on the outside while the other hand pulls out the clay from the inside.
Finally, the potter begins to shape the clay into the vessel He wants it to be. Only the potter can see beyond the lump of clay to what it could be. We look at ourselves as nothing more than a lump of ordinary clay, but when God looks at us, He sees incredible works of art that can be used for His purposes. He doesn’t look at who you are, He looks at who you will become. With patience and loving care, He creates in us things we could never imagine for ourselves. Those things only happen when we are willing to stay in the middle of the wheel and when we allow Him to empty us of ourselves.