I’ve been struggling a lot lately. I’ve become unhappy in a lot areas of life. I stress out about little things that I really have no control over. I’ve been hoping that a change of scenery would help me with how I’m feeling. But I know it won’t. Because I’ve been down that road before. And it didn’t help. Not remotely.
A few years ago, I visited a church with some friends and the man who delivered the sermon struck a chord with me. It’s something I think back on from time to time. He used a common illustration as a part of his sermon that I’ve heard before. But he used it in a way that I can’t believe I’d never thought of before.
Lots of people like to use that illustration of God being a potter while we’re the clay that He molds and forms into the people He wants us to be. All my life I’ve thought of this as a beautiful analogy and I simply pictured a potter shaping a vase on a potter’s wheel. It’s nice to see that picture of someone making something beautiful out of a clump of dirt. But I always just thought about what it looks like to see that vase taking shape on the wheel. I never think about what the clay looks like before it takes shape.
Have you ever worked with clay? I took a ceramics class back in high school. Do you know what it takes to start shaping clay into something you can actually work with? You have to beat the crap out of it. You literally have to throw it down, knead it, slap it, even punch it, to make it pliable enough to shape it the way you want it. You have to work out the air bubbles that get trapped inside it, because if you don’t, once you fire it in the kiln, those air bubbles will expand and cause your creation to become damaged.
So, sure, it’s nice to think of God as the potter working with me, the clay, when I’m the clay that’s become a vase that’s almost finished. It’s not so comfortable to think of myself as the clay that’s still being beaten and formed into something He can actually work with. But it makes sense.
No one ever claims that Christianity is an easy road. And if they do make that claim, they’re lying to you and selling you a false Gospel. Difficulties arise. Trials will come. And as hard as it may be to go through these things, God uses them to shape us and mold us into the men and women that He wants us to become.
I really don’t have a good conclusion for all of this. But that’s because I have no conclusion for what I’m going through. I guess there won’t be a true conclusion to this. And for that, I’m grateful. Because it means that God won’t give up on me. He’ll keep working on me. I can only hope He’s able to turn me, an unyielding ball of mud, into something that’s usable… into something beautiful.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4