At the age of twelve I quickly figured out that pottery was not my ‘thing’. A pottery class at Holgate Grammar School in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, convinced me that I didn’t have the patience, the inclination, or the skill to develop into the best potter the planet has ever seen. My mother’s feigned admiration for the ugly piece of earthenware handed to her, followed by its surreptitious disappearance from the family home, were further evidences, if needed, that this boy didn’t have a long-term future in that field of fine art !

In my late teens, and as a result of regular Bible reading, I was fascinated how the art of pottery became a visual aid of God’s dealings with us.  For example, Jeremiah, one of Israel’s major prophets, was one day directed to visit a potter’s house & to watch the ‘artist’ at  work … as he follows this through, God speaks to him about national issues: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”

Another major prophet, Isaiah, similarly used the pottery image, complaining, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”?

A popular Christian song in the 1960s, recorded by Jim Reeves before his tragic death, and entitled “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”, has the pottery theme in the lyrics of its first verse. It goes:

Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way

Thou art the potter, I am the clay

Mold me and make me after Thy will

While I am waiting, yielded and still

Now, I must confess that I’ve never arrived at that place of yieldedness without some degree of internal conflict.  Indeed, it still remains one of my greatest challenges to this day. I have, it is very clear, an inbuilt propensity to enjoy doing my own thing, in my own way, more than anything else – and along with it a firm reluctance to acknowledge that there may be a better way !

Call this ‘male-ness’ or ‘Yorkshire-ness’, or both, when combined with the fallen, sinful nature –  it produces the same result – obstinacy – and has caused innumerable difficulties for those around me, especially when I repeatedly fail to recognise the error of my ways, and adjust to the ways of the One who knows best.

That said, here are some lines written for this monthly musing, an understanding of which may help the ‘yielding process’  along. I hope they carry significance for you, wherever you find yourself on your journey:

~~~

As wheel of destiny turns,

creative genius flows through

firm, purposeful hands:

watering and softening,

kneading and throwing,

tirelessly shaping,

patiently molding

despite imperfection,

’til mental blueprint

surely turns to reality

and unwieldy clay

slowly becomes

a vessel of honour.

~~~

Finally … an appropriate image, I reckon, to which I’ve added a few words.

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