The Potter’s Hands

The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
-Jeremiah 18:4

Do you remember the first time you went to the salon or barber? If not, do you have an early memory of getting your hair done?

One of my first memories was as a pre-teen. I had decided that I no longer wanted pigtails and braid styles. My grandaunt took me to her best friend’s beauty shop. It was a converted garage that contained all the equipment and tools of the hair salon trade.

At that time, I had a lot of thick hair. I mean a lot. When she sat me down, I knew it was going to be a long process, but I knew it would be worth it. I wanted to look like my peers and be a cool girl. Well as much as a nerdy shy girl could be. 

I had the earliest appointment and struggled to stay awake through the process, but I remember each step. Step one, thoroughly wash the hair (at least three times, more if the South Carolina’s beach sand had taken over the scalp). Step two, deep conditioner under a high heat hooded dryer. Step three, rinse. Step four, high heat hooded dry. By now, I am fully awake, preparing for step five, the old-fashioned hot comb press. The goal was not to get burned, which meant being as still as humanly possible. 

After it was all done, I looked in the mirror at Mrs. Grant’s magic. My big afro had become a series of flat and well-greased strands, ready for any type of humidity for two weeks in the fall/winter and one week in the spring/summer. Well, that is all except for the edges of course. The edges always had to be touched up on Sunday morning by my Great Grandaunt Carrie.

Those were the days. 

As I was reading Jeremiah 18:4, this ritual came to mind. The only way I could get the desired look was to let Mrs. Grant be the potter. My job was to be perfectly still clay. One move and I would have to go to school and church with a big burn for all the world to see. 

The same is true with God. When we try to be both potter and clay, things get messed up and real ugly. In order for God to shape and mold us, we must stay perfectly still in his presence and in his will. We, the clay, do not tell God what to do. We listen through silence and obedience. When we surrender, the results are always marvelous. 

Today, the world is in deep crisis in a way that it has never been before. There is always a temptation to try and fix ourselves. We all think we have the answers. We all think we know what is best. We want to get up off that potter’s wheel and make everything right with ourselves, the people we love, and the world in which we live. 

However, God reminds Jeremiah and is reminding us that God is the Master Potter. God can make beauty, even out of marred clay. God can turn this ship around at any time. Our job is simple. We just need to have faith in God and surrender through silence, stillness, and obedience. 

Prompt for Thought: Take some time this week to spend a few minutes in stillness and silence. Ask yourself if there is an area in your life that you need to surrender to God? Is there an area where you need to choose obedience over the sacrifice of human will?

Prayer for the Journey: Dear God, thank you for shaping and molding us into the vessels you desire, even when we are marred clay. Thank you for helping us to see ourselves and this world through your loving eyes. God, when we become restless in the wait, help us to be still until you have created beauty from our ashes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.