If there was one thing I learned about myself when I was a kid it was that I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t any good at sports, I had poor eye-hand coordination, I wasn’t a star-student, I had little musical talent.
I remember feeling like a broken vessel. As if I didn’t measure up to what most of my peers were capable of doing, as if my hardest just wasn’t enough, as if I was too slow and losing the race of life.
When I was a teenager, I probably did and said a lot of stupid things, because my mom gave me a couplet that stuck to my heart like a stamp to a letter – “You are clay in the hands of the Potter.” She was quoting the Bible, trying to help me understand my purpose in life.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. -Isaiah 64:8
I’ve struggled to realize, as I’d imagine others have also, that my best isn’t good enough for God. My last ditch, all in shot at success still amounts to being a broken vessel. And that’s because I didn’t create myself.
Clay jars are delicate. They crack easily even though they may seem relatively durable.
On one hand, clay jars are refined by fire. There are several steps to making them, culminating with the kiln. This furnace carries the clay from an unfinished product to a household amenity. But once completed, the slightest nudge on the corner table could send a jar plummeting to its demise. The durability is deceiving. The thick porcelain is more delicate than it appears. No wonder the Bible often describes people as jars of clay. We are like potter’s vessels, waiting to be broken into millions of tiny pieces (Psalm 31:12, Isaiah 30:14). We are weak. We get tired and weary. We grow old and frail. – Trillia Newbell, “It’s Good to Be a Jar of Clay”
I haven’t thrown myself on the wheel of life. God has taken the weak and poorly structured vessel that I am, and he works with me on the wheel of life, creating me to be the vessel he intends.
That is the great purpose behind why we are called jars of clay. It is to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are weak, we are frail, we are lame — and yet, we are chosen. We are loved. “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28). – Trillia Newbell
So, what was I to do after my beautifully healthy firstborn daughter shockingly, suddenly died in my arms? What was I going to believe about God in that moment? What was I going to believe about myself? What was I going to do with my life, the broken and shattered life that it had become?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7
I didn’t know what to do. I could hardly get out of bed. I hardly had a reason to breathe. My already cracked, somewhat ineffective vessel was now a mass of a million pieces, useless and bitterly destroyed.
I found myself standing at the wheel of my friend’s studio, she urging me to put my hands on the clay, to just try shaping something, to let my pain spin and release from the pressure of my hands on the clay.
I’d rather have been holding my infant daughter than holding a lump a mud. But somehow the process gave me reason to ponder purpose. Life is short. Death is inevitable. What was I going to do with the reality of my life going on after the death of my daughter?
I felt I had no other choice than to become a student of the Potter himself. He is shaping me on the wheel of life for a purpose that only He knows, and since He is a good Potter, a kind Potter, a gentle Potter, there is no one else for me to trust but him. He will and He has been sustaining me on the wheel of life, tenderly creating me to be a treasured vessel.
Let God’s truth refocus your eyes today on the treasure that dwells within you. This treasure can fill the emptiest of vessels; after all, a jar is designed to hold something! That treasure is God himself, living within us, bringing his abundant life. In our own humanity we have no sense of wealth or worth, no value in this jar of clay.
We are simply an empty jar. But when this humanity is filled with deity, we receive what we were created to hold, the very life of God. He is our treasure! – Mary Fairchild, “Overcoming Despair”
Let’s thank Him for our cracks.
Let’s thank Him that outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Let’s thank Him for the light and momentary troubles that are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Let’s thank Him for our fresh start. – Sarah Matheny, “We are Jars of Clay”
If you’d like to view the process of my work over the past year to date, look for posts under the category “Handcrafts” on the main page. If you’d like to contact me or the French potter I work with, please send specific requests and information via “Contact BBM” (that’s me!) located in the top right corner of the blog. Our work is showcased locally and sold individually.