Posted by: SandreS | August 9, 2009

Vessels of Clay

… Who are you that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, ‘Why have you made me thus?’ Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? (Romans 9:20-21).

Here we have the potter working the clay to make a vessel. The picture often formed in our mind is that of the wizened potter sitting at the spinning wheel, using his hands to fashion the shape of the clay into a form of his choosing. Indeed, this is a picture of our Father at work in us; but we often miss “the rest of the story”: the clay must be placed in an oven and subject to the extreme heat of an intense fire in order for the form to solidify, and become useable and useful to its master.

Ahh: this is the catch. We don’t mind being fashioned by our Father, but it’s the fire that completes, that perfects the process, the part which we do not want to experience in order to bring about His perfection in us. Truly the writer of Hebrews spoke the truth of the matter:

Now no chastening [discipline] for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous … (12:11).

With this statement we heartily agree, and so when we encounter the trials, tribulations and sorrows of this life, we seek to escape such suffering in order to bring about the peace and contentment we so desperately crave. Yet, in so doing, we again miss “the rest of the story” provided in the second part of the verse:

… nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby.

Notice the word “exercised” – a term, or an idea, which many shun because of the implication of the suffering involved in such exertion. Moreover, in so doing, we miss the tremendous gift which our Father has provided for us through this experience of suffering.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy (I Peter 4:12-13).

The principle of God’s work in our lives is that suffering precedes glory. The fiery furnace must come before our predestined glory. The phrase “fiery trail” is but one Greek word: “purosis” (Strong’s Greek Lexicon #4451), meaning “smelting.”

Do you despair over what you are going through? Do not fret; the fiery kiln is as much a part of the purpose of God in you as is the potter’s wheel. Because you are God’s clay – His“workmanship” – He is responsible for who you are – even in every trial. He uses them, just as a potter does, in His own wisdom and at His own discretion.

Sometimes it seems easy when the Potter has “His hands on us” – when we are on His wheel. It is when we get “moved” from the wheel into the kiln that we “feel” so alone – in the midst of the fire; but even then He is the Potter.

We rejoice in the words of Arthur P. Adams (1847-1925):

God has created me for a definite purpose. That purpose I shall ultimately fulfill in His economy. It is a wise and good purpose, one with which I should be perfectly satisfied and contented if I only understood it all. Toward that end I am continually moving. All things tend to advance me in that one direction, and I shall surely arrive. I shall surely fulfill the purpose of my creation, and all I have to do is to leave myself in His hands as clay in the hands of the potter to be fashioned according to His will.

We also rejoice in the words of William Mealand (1873-1957):

He takes pleasure in His Own work. Its far-reaching issues are to constitute the delight of God’s will, and its excellency will be celestially apparent above all earthly showing … Vessels of honor for and in the Potter’s hand – made not only by Him, but for Him.

He is always the Potter, and we are always His clay – even in the furnace. This is “the rest of the story.”

Andre Sneidar
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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© 2009 Bible Students Press

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