From Clay to Masterpiece

In my last post, I started on this train of thought of the messiness of life and how God wants to get in the middle of our mess; because we were made from dust and dust is messy and God always remembers that we are dust (if you did not catch that post you can do so by clicking this link). This week, I will remain on that soapbox a little while longer and dwell in the mystery of that..

So a couple weeks ago, I was really wrestling with myself and with God about the bout of unanswered prayers that have been staring me tauntingly in the face and at some point I concluded within myself that it was pointless to pray, convincing myself that God will do whatever He wants anyway. In not wanting to lose my place in my daily bible readings, I still picked up my bible, not expecting to hear from God but just to go through the motions and get it over with But God decided to speak to me anyway. Here was the verse that jumped out at me from my readings:

“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 NLT

This scripture hit me in a unique way and even though I did not want to engage in dialogue with God at the time, this scripture has stayed in the recesses of my mind. The reason it was so significant was that before I started reading my bible, I was lamenting within myself about “if only God would do this or do that then I would be in a better place” In essence, I was saying to God, “you are doing it wrong! I think there is a better way you can be taking care of me!” You see, a few days earlier, I had read this scripture also (I read it in the NIV but I am posting the NLT version because that really brings the point home):

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 NLT

Wow! such a harsh dose of reality! I am but clay in God’s hands although sometimes.. ok.. many times.. I have acted as though I hold all the cards! I act as though I am the boss of God and his sole purpose is to do my bidding…speak of a pot thinking it is better that the potter and knows how best it should be formed. While such complacent thinking definitely calls for repentance on my part, truth is clay needs to be workable in the hands of the potter- its not always all up to the potter. Sometimes I watch videos of potters at work behind the wheel (because that is so relaxing) and sometimes the pottery do not turn out the way the potter intended. Usually, good potters do not give up on the clay. They will either start afresh or work with the clay to redesign the pottery- with the end goal of a masterpiece. This illustration reminds me of a scripture:

The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 

Jeremiah 18: 1-6 NLT

Reading that scripture in context points to the place a surrendered will has in the creation of a masterpiece. God’s intention and plan for everyone is a plan for good and not evil to give each of us a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). The part we play in this is plan is to surrender ourselves to the will of the potter (God’s will) so that as he works with the clay (us) at the wheel (life’s circumstances), we turn out to be the masterpiece He intentioned. So back to my misguided thought that God will do whatever He want anyway so why bother pray?

One of the primary purposes of prayer is to align our will with God’s. Jesus taught us to pray saying, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Aligning our will with God’s in prayer is even more important when we find ourselves in a dark place; a place of hopelessness, depression, desperation, disappointment, or despair. When instead of a beautiful pot I turn out to just be a lump of clay, that is ok, as long as I am still in the potter’s hand… He will turn this clay into a masterpiece.

Yours truly

All because we do not carry…

The past few weeks have been fraught with worrying for me and when I worry, I pace and talk to myself. I imagine at length the situations that are stressing me out or have the potential to stress me out and talk myself through them. This has been one on my coping mechanisms for many years.

This weekend, I found myself in one such spot. I had confined myself to my room and paced about talking to myself for almost an hour non-stop. After a while, I paused to freshen up and my daughter came to me and said “Mummy, are you done praying?” I remained silent for awhile unsure of how to respond. I had spent almost an hour talking through my worry and stress and I had not once in that time invited God into that conversation. In that moment, I was overcome with many emotions but prominent among them was gratitude that my kiddo knows that we have such a privilege to talk to God about anything and a little shame that I had not done that. The words of Joseph M. Scriven from the hymn “what a friend we have in Jesus” flooded my mind:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

I don’t know what you are going through right now. But if I have learned anything today, it is that I can trust God with my worry and stresses, He is waiting to be invited into those conversations.

Yours Truly.

Prayer is not a grocery list

So a few days ago I interviewed for an opportunity and prior to the interview, I had spent days praying about it and preparing for it. So many people also prayed with me and by  the day of the interview I knew I could not have been any more prepared than I was. After waiting for days after the interview, I finally received the dreaded rejection email… “you did great but we decided to go another way”… and boy was I disappointed (and honestly maybe I still am just a little bit)!

For the rest of the day and week, I did not know how to react. I had asked that God’s will be done and now that His will had not gone my way, I was upset. I started searching for some encouragement from the bible, from songs and from social media and a few days ago my encouragement came. A friend sent me a video featuring the late Ravi Zacharias and he said:

In the Christian worldview prayer is not a grocery list of requests before God… prayer is not seeking to change the will of God. It is communion with the living God such that he will change you to have the ability to receive what it is that He has for you. Ravi Zacharias

I felt chastised. To have thought that because I have prayed and others had prayed that automatically meant that I would be selected for that opportunity was very presumptous. Up until now, I have been of the mindset that prayer changes the mind and will of God to be favourable towards us. And while I am still learning more about prayer, I ask myself, “If I am praying to change the will of the all-knowing and all-powerful God, whose will is nothing short of perfection, then whose will am I seeking for in my life?”

I realized that I prayed that God’s will be done for me regarding that opportunity but I was disappointed with the outcome because in reality what I was saying was “God I want you to give it to me regardless of what your plans are for me.” This month, I am learning what it means to surrender your will to God and I now know it is easier to blog about it than to actually live it.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12: 2 NIV

I need a transformation in my mindset to be able to live a fully surrended life – I am strong-willed! I need a transformation in how I pray and what I use the privilege of prayer for. Prayer is not to impose my will on God but as Ravi rightly said, to ask that God will renew my mind to be able to accept His will as the ultimate in my life. I am humbled by these thoughts and I pray God helps me.

What about you? What does prayer mean to you? Share your comments below.

Yours Truly