God is an amazing artist. We only have to take a passing glance at our surroundings to see His handiwork. He might decorate a hillside with a bouquet of pastels and bright floral arrangements. He caps majestic purple mountains in brilliant white against an azure sky. And He can set an evening sky on fire with amazing shades of red and orange. His designs are as endless as our ability to put them into words. Not only so, but those who profess faith in Him, who are created in His image, reflect his workmanship when they exercise their creative nature.
Consider the potter/clay relationship believers have with their creator. Did you know that when archeologists find a piece of pottery in the field, they can often determine its origin and sometimes its particular maker by the fingerprints left on its underside? It is no coincidence that we, too, are identified by the very fingerprints of our Maker in us. Creating pottery, even in ancient times, was a very detailed process. The potter put so much of himself into his work that he became identified with it. It is remarkable to me that God used this analogy to describe His relationship with us.
Stretching the potter/clay analogy to a more specific line, we can see how it applies to the art of word-crafting. After all, God did bring His artwork into existence through the spoken word. And then He created language as a means of communicating with His people, that we, in turn, might reflect back on Him glory and praise with words, as well as deeds. Jesus crafted compelling stories to illustrate His truths. We, like Him, have the potential to reflect His image in our stories. We can communicate truth in a way that will speak to those who do not know Christ, and inspire Christ-likeness in those who profess faith in Him.
Many clay vessels were used for some rather disgusting purposes such as containers for household garbage and human waste. They were cheap, breakable and replaceable, but necessary. These common vessels were, also, used to hide treasures such as jewelry or precious documents. (Consider the clay jar the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in.)
In II Corinthians 4:7, Paul uses this analogy to remind us that we are that kind of vessel — expendable and replaceable. Yet the treasure contained within us is invaluable and eternal. We carry the power to accomplish His purpose, which He designed in our being before creation. Yes, we are perplexed with criticism, hard-pressed by rejections, and persecuted for expressing truth, but we are not crushed, destroyed, or forsaken. God’s glory shines best through cracked, flawed pots.
The most important aspect of the analogy is this: Before the potter can begin his work, he must knead out all the impurities in each lump of clay. After that process, he must throw it hard into the center of the wheel so that it will stick. If it is not centered just right, it can become lopsided and then he must start all over. Likewise, we must be firmly centered in our relationship with Christ in order to accomplish His will. We must commit ourselves to daily prayer and study before His glory can be reflected in us.
Remember this: The amazing work He began in you, He will see to completion.
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