The potter throws the hard lump of clay onto the wheel. As it begins to spin, the tender but firm hands of the potter hold down the squirming lump, moulding and smoothening its surface until he can shape the clay up into a cylinder. He expertly indents his fingers to transform the cylindrical shape into the desired item: a mug. With each spin of the wheel, its imperfections inside and out are pressed and smoothened more and more, until the potter is happy and the mug is ready to be put into the kiln then used. 

You can probably tell by now that I’m not trying to teach you how to make a clay mug. Instead, what I’m showing here is that the image of a potter molding clay is closely parallel to the way God works in our lives. This analogy is quite common throughout the Bible (such as in Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:1-23, Romans 9:21 and more!) – God is the potter, that designs and continually shapes us, the clay. And as Romans 9:21 tells us, God as the potter has all the right and power to do whatever He wills to the clay. Yet that leads me to question: how many of us are truly willing to be moulded by Him? 

We like to be in control, and His shaping hurts 

Let’s be honest, who likes the dread and the fear of the unknown? Maybe you’ve recently experienced this dread the night before your assignment is due, and you find youself staring into a blank page. You don’t know if you’ll be able to finish it in time, let alone get a good grade. Your stomach churns and your brain goes foggy. Definitely not a good feeling. 

Naturally, we like it when we’re in control of the situation around us (or when it seems so anyways). Life is more smooth-sailing, with no unexpected surprises or roadblocks that can come our way, and we can comfortably stay in the comfort zones of our sins. 

This comfortable feeling we seek is exactly why we find it so hard to let God be the potter of our lives. Letting God be the potter would mean surrendering everything under His command. As our pastor Rev. Agus likes to put it, it would be like first signing our life away on a blank piece of paper for God to fill in any terms and conditions He wills later. When we surrender our lives, God will point out all our flaws, and just like how the potter molds the clay to perfection, He too will mold our flaws away in the long process of sanctification. Sometimes God will allow us to suffer, or be rebuked by loved ones. We may experience sadness, loneliness, or struggle with the temptations of the world. 

His shaping will be uncomfortable. And it will hurt.

But in the end, it is worth it because the life we live under God’s rule is the best life we can ever have – one where we experience the joy and contentment in our gracious Father and Lord, and in the assurance of eternal salvation not found in any temporary things of this world. His shaping is done with and through His ultimate love for us, and in this process, we will grow to know Him more, become more like Christ, and be equipped to be used by Him if He wills. 

So what if we’re not willing? 

It is still important to note that God never forces us to do anything. 

He wants our willing obedience. 

So what if we’re not willing to leave our comfortable life in sin, and fully submit under His shaping? A hard but true reality is that God does not have to use us, and He will not use us if we don’t have a soft and teachable hearts. He let the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years due to their own hardened hearts which caused their distrust and failure to obey God’s commandments (Exodus 16). And in the same way, if we harden our hearts, God can simply let us be. 

God does not need us. Rather, we are in the disadvantage if our hearts continue to rebel against His shaping, because we will lose time that we could otherwise have used to serve Him, especially in our youth where we have the most time and energy to do so. We won’t experience the true satisfaction and joy that’s only found in a personal relationship with Him. Moreover, we won’t be able to fulfill our life’s purpose to know God and be used by Him. 

So remember, God wants our willing obedience. 

It starts with a humble heart 

To surrender our lives for God to be the potter, we need to start by putting away our pride. Let us learn to have a meek and humble heart, looking towards Jesus who is the perfect example of humility; obedient even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). May we grow to understand that all we are, and ever will be is the result of God’s works in our lives, and we cannot take credit for any of it. Instead, our life’s purpose is to bring glory to our Creator; not for our will to be done, but His will. That is the humble attitude of heart we ought to have to truly submit under God’s shaping. 

End of Year Reflections 

As I bring to a close my final article for 2023 (how time has flown!), let us pause and self-introspect. This year, have we truly surrendered our lives to God, or are our hearts still hardened and unwilling to be shaped by Him? Have we grown closer to our Creator, or further away from Him in our rebellious nature? Are we willing for God to be the potter in all the aspects of our lives, and to give Him the power and glory He deserves? 

May our desires and prayers, as we reflect over the past year and look forward to the next, be dedicated to letting Him be the potter of our lives. 

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) 

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