What I learned at the
potter’s house

“Sometime when you’re making pottery,” I told my friend, “give me a call. I’d like to come over and see how you do it.” “Fine,” she said. “In fact, you can make a pot yourself.” That’s how, a few weeks later, I found myself in the potter’s basement sitting in front of a large lump of reddish clay.

“Work the clay!” my tutor said. “Twist, fold, and knead it!”

I grabbed the moist clay with both hands, and as I pounded and hit, I started to sing, “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way. Thou are the potter, I am the clay.” Instantly I imagined God to be sitting in my place, His attention focused on me, the lump of clay slowly being transformed in His hands. This is what Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul must have felt like (Isa. 64:8; Jer. 18:1-12; Rom. 9:21; 2 Cor. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:20-21).

“You have to work it until it has an even consistency,” my friend said. “Can’t shape it until then.” How true, I thought. God uses every event to create in us a humble submission to His will. He has promised that whatever happens to us—famine or feast, triumph or tragedy—He can work for our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). But we must yield to His will.

“How long should I keep going?” I asked, my fingers toiling away. “It’s hard to do it too long. You’ll know when it’s ready.”

“What if the clay is lumpy?” I wondered. “Work ’em out or dig ’em out. They’ll spoil the pottery, guaranteed. If yours has too many, throw it away and get a new lump.” Pure in heart, I thought. God wants us to be wholly His, nothing held back.

When the clay was ready, we made our vessels. Mine was to be a reproduction of the oil lamps of Old Testament times.

“Make it just like you want it, ’cause once it goes in the kiln, there’s no redo.” At life’s end, we’re either God-like or we’re not, useful or useless, a keeper or headed for the dumpster. Which will it be? Now determines.

—Steve Singleton