I have found a new respect for clay recently through working with our children (Jonathan 10 and Katie 8) and other youth. About two years ago Jonathan started to work with clay. He and Katie had taken a clay class taught by an artist. Then Jonathan started to animate his clay creations with a video camera and computer program, doing "stop-motion animation". To say he was prolific would be an understatement. Jonathan always begins with mere slabs and lumps of clay, but when he gets done with them--a work of art results. (Some of Jonathan's creations can be seen at http://www.abbasfamily.com/jon .)
I never gave clay too much thought when I was growing up. I was a Play-Doh girl all the way. It was softer and easier to work with than "real" clay, it smelled neat, it came in bright colors, and you could mix special hues like lavender and turquoise quickly and easily by squishing various colors together. And it came with so many cool cutters and molds--you could easily create miniature McDonald's hamburgers and ice cream cones and puppies and kittens and letters and numbers and more. Sure, I dabbled once with making homemade clay out of flour and cornstarch. I also made the obligatory clay figures and pot in middle school art class. But those were only fleeting projects. Play-Doh was my regular stand-by.
Years later as an adult, I began to think more about real clay when I heard illustrations in sermons at church about how God is like a Master Potter and we are like clay in His hands. I realized that the analogy wouldn't work very well with Play-Doh! You don't have to "knead" Play-Doh much at all to make it soft enough to work with. And when you are done making a creation, it doesn't last very long--Play-Doh left out to harden quickly begins a crumbling process. No, God isn't the Master Play-Doher. His creations last.
And then there is the "firing" process with the kind of clay that you make into permanent pots and figurines. After an object is made, it must be put into an oven and baked at extremely high temperatures to make it suitable for permanent use. Such treatment would turn an object made from Play-Doh into an unrecognizable blob. The Master Potter's creations are made stronger by fire, not damaged or destroyed.
After a particularly trying time in my husbandís and my life we heard a minister speaking about how our experiences, trials and tribulations were used by God to mold us. Then after the kneading and shaping--time for the fire! We both were exhausted from the molding process. My husband and I looked at each other in shock--we werenít done yet. If we thought the kneading and pinching and punching had been bad, wait until the Master Potter fired us up! I suppose none of it would be all that bad if we just let God get everything over with instead of resisting throughout the whole process. But yielding to the hands of the Potter is seldom easy for most of us.
The Bible tells us that God, the Master Potter, molded the first man from "the dust of the earth"--from the same elements as the clay we can use to make pots. In a sense, He still physically molds each and every one of us in our mother's womb. And He molds the character of the Christian throughout life, making the New Creature in Christ conform more and more to the likeness of our Elder Brother.
By Ramona Leiter