When clay talks back ∙
What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ – Isaiah 45:9
How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid?” – Isaiah 29:16
20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”
21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
The following illustration is slightly modified and extracted from “The Hammer, the File, and the Furnace” by Samuel Rutherford.
Rutherford said amid very painful trials and heartaches: “Praise God ‘for the hammer, the file, and the furnace!’”
Let’s think about that. The hammer is a useful and handy instrument. It is an essential and helpful tool when nails are to be driven into place. Each blow forces their bite deeper as the hammer’s head pounds and pounds.
But if the nail had feelings and intelligence, it would give us another side of the story. To the nail, the hammer is a brutal, relentless master – an enemy who loves to beat it into submission. That is the nail’s view of the hammer. It is correct except for one thing. The nail tends to forget that both it and the hammer are held by the same workman. The workman decides whose “head” will be pounded next and which hammer will be used to do the job.
This decision is the sovereign right of the carpenter. Let the nail but remember that it and the hammer are held by the same workman and its resentment will fade as it yields to the carpenter without complaint.
Heartaches and disappointments are like the hammer. They come in all shapes and sizes: unmet expectations, lingering illness, unexpected death, unfulfilled life goals, severed friendship, a wayward and rebellious child, a habit you can’t seem to break, a broken home, or marriage. Sometimes heartaches come suddenly, other times slowly. But indeed, they do come.
Without doubt, if nails had feelings, they would not “like” to be smacked on their heads with a hammer. But does it make any sense for a nail to resent the blows of the hammer?
The same is true of children of the King. The Father has the right to decide whose head is going to be hammered next, how hard, and for how long. And for all practical purposes, although we are but nails, and we are His nails.
As difficult as it may be to believe at times, the Master knows what He’s doing. The Father knows our breaking point. The hammer blows are designed to reshape us, not ruin us. Our value to Him increases the longer He lingers over us (Rutherford).
REFLECT & PRAY
Common clay is simply part of the dry ground, the dirt, that the Father separated from the waters in the beginning.
Father, it is so human and natural to struggle with this. Encourage and help me to remember that I was made from the dust of the earth. Help me not to forget that You are fashioning me into what you desire and that one day I will finally become what You intended all long.
Do we forget who is the clay and Who is the Potter? Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” (Isaiah 45:9).
Do we really think that the Father is deficient in intelligence or wisdom? Do we actually believe His planning is inadequate, unfair, or defective? Does He lack the power and ability to get the job done? Of course not, how absurd!
Resolving this issue and gaining peace of mind and understanding is often very, very difficult. Yet any child of the King can do it. It often comes through much inner turmoil and struggle. As much as we may desire that things might be different, the Father is the Potter. We are not. We are only clay designed to be shaped into whatever He desires. Thus, the solution is simple yet difficult.
Each child of the King merely acknowledges that The Potter is indeed the potter. The final say in the shaping process is His and not ours.
For a moment, employing a bit of wishful thinking, we might imagine ourselves as the potter. If it were possible to become the potter, at that moment we can take things into our own hands. But until that time, it is better to remember that soft clay bends, but hard, brittle clay breaks.
One more thing, clay, by its very nature is inactive, passive, and inert. Clay does not get into mud fights with other clay. It does not get rowdy and toss itself about. It does not start rockslides. It does not muddy clear, sparkling water for the sheer fun of it or out of spite. Clay basically just lays around. It is utterly torpid.
It is only when it is taken into a potter’s hands, that it becomes something else. It is fashioned, molded, and shaped. It takes on a new form. It is given new meaning, purpose, and value.
The potter is the one who shapes it and crafts it. He determines what kind of pot it will become. Some pots are very beautiful and ornate. Others not so much. The New Living Translation is conspicuously direct, even harsh in its translation.
Romans 9:21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
Children of the King can become content when they accept the fact that the Father is crafting them into the kind of pot that He desires. Though the process is difficult, even grievous, the result is that we become what we were born to be and do.
With a bit of contemplation, common sense, and wisdom, we can recognize that the Father as the Sovereign Lord is working things out according to His design and purpose. The Father is the Lord God Almighty. We are but dust, the dust of the earth. However, we are His dust.
Praise the LORD! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns (Revelation 19:6).