For Christmas one of my daughters received a children's pottery wheel from her grandparents. Both of my girls were very excited to use it and make a little pot. It took some time, but soon enough my girls had learned how to press on the clay and shape it as is spun one the wheel. As I helped them and watched their little hands shaping the clay I couldn't help but think of the analogy taught in the church of the Potter and the Clay.
There were some instructions that came with this little pottery wheel. They were pretty basic and easy to follow. The first step was to squeeze and squish the clay a bit in our hands to soften it up. Amazingly, this is where the analogy begins. Before anything can be made of us we must soften our hearts and be willing to be molded and shaped by The Lord, the Master Potter. If we harden our hearts and become stubborn or proud the Lord will not be able to work with us and mold us into something better.
The second step was really simple too, however the instructions emphasized that it was crucial this step was taken or we wouldn't be able to progress. The instructions stated that the softened clay MUST be placed in the CENTER of the wheel. If it wasn't centered the clay would be unbalanced and the force of the wheel spinning would either break the clay, or it would be flung off the wheel. So it is in our own lives. It is not enough just to soften our hearts; if we do not have a Christ-centered life we will break and be placing ourselves outside the “safety zone” of Christ’s blessings and protection. If we have a Christ centered life and allow ourselves to be sculpted by the trials given to us by the Master Potter we will be strong and become a beautiful vessel that can benefit mankind and bring joy to our maker.
The next step was where things became a little more difficult. This was when we needed to start applying pressure to the clay. This seems easy enough, but as we learned, there has to be the right amount of pressure. We needed to have a steady hand and be gentle so we didn't break our fragile pot, but if we didn't use enough pressure the clay would not move or change. How lucky we are to have a Master Potter that knows exactly what we require in order to take shape and grow.
In our instructions it told us that there were many different shaped pots we could create depending on how we molded the clay and which tools we used to shape it. So are we, as God’s children, capable of being many different things. And just as certain types of pots or vessels have a particular purpose, so do each of us. Heavenly Father knows from the beginning what it is we are meant to be, what we are capable of. And it is our Loving Maker that knows just what tools to use to change us and help shape us into who we need to be in order to fulfill our calling and purpose in this life.
There were other things that were necessary for us to make our little pots. The instructions informed us that we would need to keep the clay wet during the whole process so that our hands could slide across it. If the clay became too dry it would “snag” on our fingers and hands, which resulted in a misshapen pot. At one point this even caused my daughter’s pot to crack and break. Like the clay we also need things that will make this sculpting process easier, things that will help lessen the friction and pain of difficult times. Things like prayer and scripture study will not only help keep us centered on Christ, but will allow the Holy Ghost to dwell with us and soothe our “snags” or rough spots.
The final step in sculpting a clay pot is to put it in the oven or furnace and bake it so that it becomes solid and firm. Sometimes our worst trials are the things that make us the strongest, so long as we trust in Heavenly Father, the Master Potter.
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8)