The metaphor of clay in the life of the Christian has always been a source of comfort for me, but I didn't fully realize what it meant until I became involved with my daughter's pottery class.
Clay is malleable. It can be rolled, stretched, incised, imprinted, and watered down and worked again. I love working with clay.
The clay became even more special to me when I took classes in precious metal clays. You see, the "clay" part is just a binder to hold the tiny fragments of the metal together. The clay burns off when you fire the piece to harden the metal clay. If you are working with silver clay, you come out with a product called "fine" silver. It is more nearly pure silver than sterling.
But handling this clay takes special care. First it must be kept moist or wet. If you let it dry out, you cannot work with it as you should.
Then you must oil both your hands and any surface that it touches to keep it from sticking in places where you don't want it and ruining the piece you are making.
Once the piece is completed, you let it dry - sort of like a desert experience.
When it is dry, you file any rough edges or accidental protrusions.
Then you put it in a kiln - or in the flame of a torch to fire.
Once it is fired, you polish it by putting it in a tumbler with shot.
If you want special effects, you treat it with chemicals to change the color or give it the appearance of age.
Eventually you have a piece of jewelry that is 99% fine silver, a thing of beauty, and a joy to wear.
We have the treasure of the gospel in our jars of clay. But if we keep it watered with the Word, oiled by the Holy Spirit, it is fit for molding by the Lord.
We may go through desert experiences and have abrasives applied to refine our shape. We will most certainly be proved in fire of one kind or another. Then we will be thrust into a world that tumbles us with grit or shot to polish us to a high shine so that we reflect the light of Christ.
Completely yielded, we can be of service to the Lord. It's not a quick process. It takes time. Let us yield with patience to the Lord's shaping.
Help us to be soft, malleable clay in Your hands. Give us the grace to endure the process so that we may come out refined and useful to Your kingdom.
In Jesus' most precious name.