(third in a six part series)
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Jeremiah 18:1-2
My clay is ready to be formed into a slab. The Fun time has come! This lump is changing into a real vessel. I begin to roll it out into a sheet. Mmmm, Not as easy as I thought. It takes lots of elbow grease. In fact it feels a lot like work! As I push and pull the rolling pin I must be careful to keep the clay a consistent thickness. Finally I have a large, flat piece of grey clay.
It’s cutting time! As I carefully cut out the shape and size that I desire from this soft pliable clay and press a design into it’s surface, I’m reminded of the skill of the Master Potter as he uses his sharp surgical instrument to gently cut away a little piece of fear, an odd protrusion of anxiety, and then ‘press’ His design of joy, peace, patience into my life when I’m pliable. I gently place the clay into the bowl for support so that it will hold it’s curved shape until it is dry and hardened. It’s looking good!
Ready for the fire? Not so fast. This lovely bowl must sit on the shelf for a while. Not just a couple of hours but for days, weeks or sometime months! It must become leather hard and then bone dry! And only a Master Potter can tell when it is ready to fire.
Has the Lord ever ask you to just sit on the shelf and wait? Has He called you to come away from it all and just wait? To become so thirsty for him until you are bone dry? It’s not easy. I get restless, bored, or disappointed. I feel like that lump of clay we started with. Sure, I had high hopes at first, even made it through the slamming, and the tugging and the cutting and the shaping, knowing that great things were just around the corner. But then I get put on the shelf to dry out! “So God, where is that future you promised in Jeremiah 29:11?” I wait and I complain and I whine.
And the Master Potter simply waits.
This waiting step is very strategic. The integrity of the piece is at stake. If fired before it is ready, the moisture would cause the vessel to crack and then it would go on the ‘Oops’ pile, no use for anythng.
Aren’t you glad our Father, the Master Potter, doesn’t have an ‘Oops’ pile. I’ve heard the saying, ‘God don’t make no junk!” and he doesn’t make mistakes either. Marty, my Master potter friend, watches the color change from dark to light and he can tell when this piece is bone dry, ready for the kiln. Our Master potter is patiently watching us, knowing that this shelf time is developing character deep within us if we will just rest, dry out and wait with him.
Thank you Father for the quiet shelf times with you. Times when we just sit quietly and meditate on your goodness, your character and your love. Help us, Lord, to understand that these are not to be times of frustration, but times of peace, joy and contentment. And Lord, in these times, help us to raise our eyes upward and catch a glimpse of your lovely face, see the twinkle in your eye and the smile on your face us as we simply wait on this shelf. And help us to remember that even though we may be on the shelf, we have not left the potters shed and you are there. From this perspective we have the opportunity to watch you as you work on other pieces of clay. We can observe as you toil over larger pieces and smaller pieces, take note as you smile at the accomplishment of your hands and we join you as you celebrate the wonder of your handiwork. In your presence in the potter’s shed, there is fullness of joy! Shelf time is not so bad after all.