Before we talk about clay, it’s the beginning of another year and many people have positive resolutions and expectations for the year. My interaction with a couple of friends revealed that their expectation is for God to make them a better version of their 2017 selves. Their resolution is no different from mine. As I reflected on this expectation, it dawned on me that before something gets better, it goes through a process which is usually unpleasant.
I soliloquized: Am I willing to pay the prize? Can I go through the process? I then remembered my pottery and ceramics lessons—way back in SHS—of how pottery wares were made. Then the words of the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, began blaring in my ears: “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.”
If Isaiah’s word is anything to go by, then it means that just as a ball of clay goes through processes before being formed into a fine pottery product, we as humans have to go through a process, and the process a potter subjects a clay to can be unpleasant.
Clay in its raw form contains debris which makes it difficult for use. The potter has to remove the debris from it. Still, the clay can’t be used by the potter because it contains too much moisture and, hence, can easily be deformed by handling. So, it is left to dry partially to make it leather-hard. The clay is, then, subjected to a process called wedging and kneading which prepares the clay for optimal use. This is done by throwing the clay forcefully onto a hard surface and applying upper body pressure on it through the use of the palms. The clay is sometimes cut into pieces and pressed. This is done to make the clay more pliable, ensure uniformity and consistency, and removes air pockets as well as small hard spots in the clay. The clay is then sculpted and then put on a potters wheel. This is where the clay is shaped into the desired ware that the potter wants. It is then subjected to atmospheric air and heat after which it is exposed to extreme heat in the oven called kiln. This process is known as blasting. Finally, it is glazed.
I believe in order to turn out into God’s handiwork, God subjects us to the processes a clay goes through to become an attractive handiwork. He removes some debris from our life in the form of unproductive or negative people. We sometimes get rejected by people as a result of this process. We go through some challenges that sometimes makes us feel like our lives are going through a meltdown. We feel crushed and heartbroken. It can be in the form of disappointments, hardship, and so on. There are times when it seems our life is spiralling out of control due to circumstances beyond our control. There are times we go through periods of protracted hardship. We sometimes feel like life is being unfair to us.
Just as most of us are eager to be the best, let’s all remember that we’d surely encounter these phases at a point in time. The reason why a potter subjects a clay to all these harsh processes is to make a durable pottery product out of it. A coffee mug can contain hot coffee at all times because it has been subjected to temperatures, higher than the temperature of a coffee.
In order to make you a better person, God has to take you through some harsh processes. If you lose some friends this year through no fault of yours, remember you’re being separated for a purpose. You feel your life is going through a meltdown, spiralling out of control and crashing down, remember God is wedging and kneading and shaping you into an indefatigable handiwork.
He wants to make you strong in order for you to be able to handle any challenge life throws at you. In order to be the best in life, you have to be tried and tested. So, sit tight and trust the process.
Happy New Year!