“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)
I am so often prone to believe that I have to ACT right, WORK hard, TRY with all my might to become the person I ought to be, and yet, this passage tells me that I am clay in the hands of the Master Potter. The only help the Potter needs from me is to be soft and pliable when He shapes me. That is so counter-intuitive in our modern culture where everything is about performance, achievement, success, image. I have the hardest time being patient with a process that takes place on God’s timetable, not my own, and over which I have no control except to be still. I was writing about this to a friend this morning to encourage her in her Christian walk. I wanted her to rest in the truth that the Christian life is not about self-imposed behavior modification, but the transformation that comes at the hands of a loving Father who has promised to make us just like Jesus.
The idea of being defenseless clay in the hands of a powerful God can be frightening, especially for those with an image of God that is stern, angry and disgusted with our imperfections. It is, in fact, quite the contrary. While He does want to remove everything that doesn’t look like what He is making us to be, He is not in a rage while He is doing it, but is affectionate and careful in His attention to us. He is both Father and Potter. He is not clumsy or heavy-handed in His shaping, but is patiently bringing forth artistry in His masterpiece—us.
I got to thinking about this and how the same hands that shaped mountains out of rocks and dirt and clay, work daily in the medium of wispy, water-vapor clouds. If He is artist enough to have that kind of range in forming our earth and its atmosphere, surely I can trust Him to be skilled and nuanced and loving enough to handle the stony places in my will AND to work in the fragile stuff my heart is made of. David wrote in Psalm 103:13-14
“As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.” (NIV)