The Obstinate Clay

Do you ever see someone and think, "There!  That is what I want to do.  That is what I would love if only I had the chance.  Why can't I just wake up and be that?"

I've thought to myself  that it would be fun to be some kind of speaker at events or conferences.  I've been to events like Women of Faith or Catalyst Conference and I just look and think how awesome it would be to be able to share your story- share with a group something that is encouraging and challenging- something that moves people's hearts or ideas.  To have this awesome platform to make a difference.

But then, SMACK, like a bird hitting a glass door I stop myself short- sell myself short.  I say "Self,  people don't just get up one day and speak."    It seems you have to earn the right to speak... you have to have a story or background that makes people want to listen.  So maybe you've written a book, or you've spent years in the political arena, or you overcame a life threatening situation, or you've pioneered a new outreach organization or you've done something fascinating like creating a successful program for at risk youth that combines zoology and gospel choir.  I don't know.  So then I think, God, really, how come I can't just miraculously have a platform like those people?  How on earth did they get there?  Why can't I be more put together, or organized, or focused- couldn't I offer more then?

And I buy into the lie that people create their own influence by working hard enough or accumulating their own impressive life resume or because they were coincidentally in the right place at the right time.  

But do you want to know the truth?  I am clay.  So are you.  We are all just clay.  And that is a beautiful and humbling thing.  Everything we have is given- and everything we are is given.

Isaiah 64:8 says that God is the Potter- we are clay, the work of His hands.

The humbling thing is that clay in its latent form is not a very beautiful thing, and it doesn't get to decide what it will be- that is entirely dependent on the potter.

Romans 9:20-21 says, "But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?  Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?"

So I'm picturing this- I'm this lump of greyish clay- and I see this other clay that was turned into a elaborate decorative vase that brings beauty to the whole house- and I'm so afraid that I'm just going to be turned into a little cereal bowl that just does the same old thing every day (and doesn't get any fancy glaze).  But that doesn't matter.  Not that what I AM doesn't matter.  Not that I matter less.  But there have to be bowls.  God knows that.  They may not be glamorous but they are incredibly useful.  We may not all be fancy or appear glamorous or seem as obviously influential, but we each have a purpose.  And how silly, with my finite view of the world, to sit here and tell God how He ought to make me.

Can't you just hear it?  "God, you are going to want to add a handle here, because that is how the Queen will carry me, and I need a kind of ornate swirl on that side to elicit respect.  No no NO!  What are you doing? I said AN ORNATE SWIRL on THAT SIDE!!  Are you even GIVING me a SIDE?  What on earth are you making?"

It's not a pretty image.  And I imagine God looking at me with this odd mix of love and sadness because he knows exactly what He wants to do with me if I would just allow Him to work.

 Which brings me to my last thought- Jeremiah 18:3-6 shares yet another analogy of God's people as clay, but in this passage the clay is "marred" and the potter reworked it "as seemed best to him."  And I wonder sometimes in all my fighting with God- in all my flailing about to be something "more"- more important, more influential, more meaningful- maybe I'm really just being less (but not in a humble way.) If I'm not letting Him use me right where I am- right where He has currently placed me- if I'm not willing to just sit with Him and be shaped by His word and His love- then at worst I'll just stay a sad lump of clay that refused to be made into anything...or at best I'll be a piece of pottery trying to do something it wasn't (yet?) designed for.  I say "yet" because God is constantly shaping and reshaping us, I believe...and our use and design for today may change in a later season.  

And who knows, God may allow you to live out the amazing dream you have for yourself- he might give me somewhere to speak one day- maybe that is sort of what I'm doing here with this blog- but in the meantime I need to rest in what He is already doing in my life and stop trying to be a different kind of pottery.