“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).
When we hear the metaphor Isaiah uses to compare our journey with God to a potter forming his clay, we are moved by the idea of being thoughtfully guided into a masterpiece of His design. But if you truly understood the process that clay must undergo in order to transform into a structure of greater purpose, you may not feel quite as inspired.
Clay begins as rock which has to be dug up from the earth and finely ground into dust. Once the dust is carefully combined with other natural substances to develop a pliable material, the potter begins the formation process. The clay is cut. Rolled. Stretched. Pushed. Pressed. Divided. Smashed. Beaten. Spun. Flipped…
And sometimes just when the potter thinks he’s almost finished, he finds a detrimental flaw that if not rectified would, in time, cause the entire creation to crumble. So the vessel has to be taken apart — completely broken for a short time — so the potter can start the process again in order to ensure its long-term stability.
When the basic structure has been formed, the potter begins the refinement. He takes special tools to trim away the excess and carve out unique designs. He adds and takes away. Then he takes the vessel and places it in a fire hot enough to make it strong, but not hot enough to destroy it.
As the final step in this tedious work, he must set the vessel aside to give it time to cool. It stands alone, separated, to keep it from getting tainted with anything that does not belong or from being touched by something that would leave an ugly indentation. And while it waits, it could almost be mistaken as being forgotten. But the potter understands how necessary this time of stillness is. It’s an act of preservation, not of punishment or neglect. And he is always nearby, always keeping watch over his precious design until it’s ready to be used.
If your desire is to be a vessel used by the Lord, you will undoubtedly face the same molding method. He will uproot you from your comfort zone, press you, push you, stretch you to your limits, and flip your life upside-down. Somewhere through your process, you will make mistakes and create your own detrimental flaw, which will cause God to break your plans apart in order to piece you back together as a stronger, more resilient piece. He will give to your life. And He will also take away. He will strip away the unnecessary and add the beautiful. Eventually, He will put you through a fire — a fire that will burn, but not break; a fire that will strengthen your spirit, remove impurities, and help you stand firm. And there will be seasons of stillness when you feel God is absent, when in reality He is simply allowing the power of separation to instill a deeper faith and to protect your spirit . . . All of this just to mold you into the unique vessel He had in mind when He first created you.
It’s slow and wearisome work, creating with clay. It’s messy and unpredictable at times, and exhilarating and fulfilling at others. It would be easy to walk away when the clay falls apart or does the exact opposite of what was intended. It would be easy to throw it all away and hope for a better result with fresh clay. But thankfully, the gracious Potter of our lives never turns away. He never even considers it. He values us too much to toss us aside; His investment is too deep, the price He paid for us too high. So He just continues to reshape and restructure over and over again until we reach our final, divine purpose.
It’s not until the end that the new form can be seen for what it truly is: a work of art. While others may be able to stand from afar and appreciate the end result, no one cherishes a masterpiece more than the artist Himself — the artist whose heart saw what could be before it was, whose hands carefully crafted it from its beginning. He stands in awe, remembering every detail of the journey to completion with nothing but love. Pure, flawless, incomparable love.
And those who recognize the beauty of the vessel are actually unknowingly revering the skill and vision of the artist. You see, there is no creation that can gain existence or worth without first experiencing the craftsmanship of a masterful creator. We are the art made from the ultimate Artist, and it’s the process that allows the heart of the Master to be recognized in us.
No one really likes the thought of going through the Potter’s process. But without it, we cannot become a brilliant, usable vessel. We would remain purposeless stone, or a weak and unfinished clay form. Each step, no matter how seemingly small, is vital. It’s through His deliberate process that we become whole and are fully able to be poured into and out of. If you allow every aspect of your life to be as malleable as clay so that God can step in and be your Potter, you’ll find the process to be most rewarding — for it’s what will refine your life into the very best of God’s intention.
Peyton Johnston is from Terre Haute, Indiana, where she works as a Hilton hotel event coordinator and attends the incredible New Life Fellowship Church. She’s known for being an avid list-maker, drinking far too many hazelnut cappuccinos, taking spontaneous trips, and wearing all black far more often than the norm. Her greatest pursuit is to live a life of passionate worship, gracious servanthood, and relentless love that thoroughly reflects Jesus.