I climbed narrow and steep iron grid steps to a second story potter's shed. Sunlight filtered through patterned wood. The sound of water trickled over broken bits of colored tiles.
Twice in six weeks, I have taken a tile making class on a remote island where the story of history is told. She takes a bit of simple clay in her hands to roll a ball. Feeling the residue of earth between her palms, she makes a log shaped coil and bends it into an upside-down u shape and says the word, memory.
This bit of clay, she said, will automatically re-coil into the same shape (almost as a memory) unless we manipulate the substance.
"We need to stop trying to fit God into our mold" is an idea that keeps resonating with me. Imagine a busy doctor's office or a deli where a million things are happening and you need to WAIT and wait and wait until your number is called. I work in such a place as that, where the second I hit the building, I'm going a hundred miles an hour, behind the scenes and in front too. Now, add that to a good many folks I care about that live out of town which causes me to travel a lot. Add that to ministry - I am a volunteer youth worker. Add that to several pod-casts, a conference and some classes and well, I crumble - a bit ... like dry, cracked clay.
I pause. My lens narrows to the sunlight stretching in through slivered windows. The mold stamped as if with a cross, the clay - soft, moldable; broken pieces of colored pottery washed up upon the shore. All of these ingredients draw me into a story, this story. I pause. In order to slow the internal noise and the external schedule, I quiet my pace in order to become fully present in a fleeting moment passing quickly through my fingers.
I pause. The bible is filled with scripture about the potter's clay. And, as I received careful instructions to make a simple tile,
I could not help but reflect on God deconstructing me. Not only is my image of him being re-shaped but everything about me is upside down. I WAIT for the potter to mold.
Prayer - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer, and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. NIV Philippians 4:6
To be honest, I was completely exhausted before I got to this potter's shed. Work and ministry had me tired and yet, I needed this weekend with family to be memorable. I had to pray my way through the details and trust the potter's hands for a story worth re-telling.
There are plenty of viable options for your time. There are for mine too and yet, I pray and ask God for just a bit more strength to reach out to others or to find a pool of reserve energy to write. I do these things not because I am a nice person, not because I am earning my way to heaven but in my willingness to be moldable clay in the father's hands, I trust His plans. I invest in the story of other people as a tangible reflection of my faith; it is the only way I know how to spread the good news of the gospel.
The potter's hand. The next step is color.
A map with my name and a diagram with color swatches sits beside my indented clay. It is ready for the parts that give it vibrancy. In us, it is the people and experiences that scatter color like streaks of sunsets across ocean shores. I wait. I wait for the tile to be fired. I wait for a series of steps I do not see. I wait for the tile to be finished and mailed in a box to my doorstep.
I wait for the potter's hands.
I am simply ONE person. How could the father use one broken piece of clay?
Do Not Give Up Hope
The first thing seen when entering this potter's shed, is a large shell once washed up upon the shore. It now is the home for broken bits of colored clay. These fragments were found along the shore of the Pacific ocean this past summer. Literally, at high tide, scraps of broken pottery are churned up and scattered along the beach.
The potter's hand gathers them as precious treasures found.
Memory - is the title for this post. Memory - clay rolled into a u-shape will eventually return to that position without the work of molding, shaping and breathing.
Will we be made new?
If we are called to a growing, vibrant faith, then we are called to trust the potter's hands; he will use our experiences to create something valuable in us. How many times, have we come to question our worth? Unless you see through the lens of loving eyes, we will continue to live small lives. In order for God to re-shape memory into His constant presence and goodness, we have to be willing to bend freely and rest in the warmth of His hands.
This world is vying for survival one failure at a time. God enters your story and mine to create something beautiful. We are both the broken and colored bits of pottery scooped up from the shores. We are also the hands to scoop up other broken pieces.
Your story intertwined with my story for the sake of a greater story.
Like broken bits of colored clay, my life was falling apart. I followed a jeep trail from social media leading me to an out-of-town conference. I thought it would be about faith. It wasn't. I thought it would be about a platform, it wasn't. I thought it was about a new experience, it wasn't. It was about a relationship.
It was God reaching out through other broken bits of colored clay in order to scoop up my tired and broken soul.
Lunch on the second day, I sought the shade of a tree. I sat alone with a plate of food. A stranger approached and asked if she and three students (she just met) could sit with me. That led to a conversation about faith. For some reason, she said her son was gay and they had been ostracized by the church. Tears spilled from my eyes, as this was the first opportunity I had had to openly talk to strangers about my daughter's relationship. She welcomed me into a community where hundreds of mothers are being turned away from the church. Inwardly, I wept. Outwardly, I was embarrassed, lost and alone.
Other broken pieces of clay scattered upon the shores. God waiting to use people - to scoop and be scooped in a lost and hurting world.
In the following weeks, I was invited into a church community where the breaking of break and the offering of water takes place through a computer screen. I stumbled upon a broken young teenager with the weight of life and the load of a medical diagnosis on the shoulders of her frail frame. My words could never convey the pain witnessed in a candid shot from mother and daughter and I thought of Christ and how he wept.
God doesn't grant wishes, although He does hear our prayers, he invites us into a story - yours and mine and both have great value because in the potter's hands, each abandoned dream wrapped in one soul is a valued treasure washed upon the shore.
What if ... you could only do ONE thing for God?
One thing; one word. Hope.
May you have eyes to see and a heart to love.
May the peace of God which transcends all understanding guide your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.