Friday, May 26, 2017

The Potter and the Clay

In Isaiah 64:8 (NLT)  Isaiah prays:
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.

Sketches, self-portraits, papers, and charcoals, and pastels – these are some of my most treasured memories from elementary art class. It was a smattering of experimentation in mixed media, learning shapes and proportions, and testing my skills. I loved the smell of fresh paper, the texture of the glue, the splatters on my smock, and the unbridled joy of creating. And then there was pottery.  I could barely contain my excitement at the thought of a creating with clay.

First, I had to pick something that I wanted to create. Then I had to sketch it on paper. I had to figure out how I was going to get from a lump of clay to that idea in my mind. I had to know what tools to use and then I had to paint it, too.  And so I made my pottery. The teacher fired it, and I painted it, and the teacher fired it again. It was finished, and I was so proud of my work.

I don’t know why I kept this unusual bowl with a rainbow and a leprechaun sitting on a pot of gold; I suppose it was a tangible reminder of that amazing sense of accomplishment that I had designed something unique and brought it to fruition. For a few brief classes, I was a potter, and I brought forth a piece of art from my very own lump of clay. 

Don’t you think that God has that same sense of pride and accomplishment when He looks at you? The Bible reveals to us that God is just like a potter, and we are His clay. Just like a potter, God designs us with a purpose, a plan, a beautiful creation with gifts and skills and hopes and dreams. Just like a potter, God is not afraid to get His hands dirty in the muck and the mud of our lives. He is not somewhere, watching us struggle from a distance, but He’s right here, with His hands holding the clay, molding and shaping us as if the circumstances of our lives are His tools. And He adores His own creation. 

Some days, I can scarcely breathe thinking about the ways I’ve messed up as a mom. Some days, I get caught second guessing my choices and ruminating on the what-ifs. What if we had scheduled more physical therapy? What if we had chased down a different speech diagnosis? What if we had avoided medication? What if we had made better choices and fewer mistakes? What if we are going about it all wrong? Perhaps the outcome would be better, my children would be better, my hope for their future would be better. 

As a parent, I think I’ve done more wrong than I’ve done right. I feel judged by therapists, ignored by doctors, and lost in a sea of paperwork. I’ve lost friends who just cannot understand. I often think that I am too far gone for God to redeem the parenting mistakes I’ve made. And it’s hard for me to imagine that I’m not too messed up to be a beautiful vessel for Him.  I’m tired, and I’m worn, and my color has faded away. I feel more like a broken glass than a beautiful vase. 

But here’s the thing about God. He made each one of us beautiful. He made us, He formed us, He fashioned us with the skill of a potter, into something beautiful and special and amazing. We are a piece of pottery that pleases Him. And God continues to use our circumstances to form us into a vessel that is beautiful and more like Jesus. He doesn’t allow us or our children to go through negative things to harm us, but in His infinite love and mercy, He takes the things that happen to us and helps us be shaped more beautifully by them. 

Do you know what a potter can do? When the clay is placed on the potter’s wheel, it can have blemishes or mistakes. But if the broken pot is still in the potter’s hand, the potter can squish that pot back into a new lump of clay and fashion it all over again. Don’t think you are ever too messed up or too far gone to be used by God. Because the one who created you can re-form you into a brand new, beautiful creation. He can get right back in the mud with you and reshape you into something beautiful and special and purposeful again. God loves you so much that He isn’t afraid to get His hands dirty to make you into a beautiful precious vessel that belongs to Him. 

And that is my hope in this special needs parenting journey -- That while I may make mistakes, and make wrong choices, I know that God is the redeeming potter who can refashion me into something new and beautiful again. And just as God is designing that piece of art that is me-in-progress, God is also designing, forming, and creating a piece of art that is my child. We don’t have to make ourselves something amazing or beautiful, we just have to help each other stay in the Potter’s hands. No matter how much we mess up, He can and will make us beautiful again. 

Dear God, Somedays I feel like a cracked and broken piece of pottery; good for nothing but the trash bin. But the truth is that You are the potter and we are the clay. Please God, re-form me, remake my spirit, and give me new strength and beauty to live this life that You have called me to live.  Amen 

Amanda Furbeck 


  1. Beautiful encouragement. Thank you.

  2. My 51 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. Now what does her parents do!