It has been a while since I’ve had the chance to write, but there’s also an idea that’s been percolating in my mind that is finally ready to share.
I have been praying during this season of a rough pregnancy, chasing two toddlers, and anticipating having three babies for wisdom. Wisdom in the day to day, but wisdom beyond that too. God has not just called me to correct behaviors and teach good habits, but instead, I’ve been given the honor of helping shepard and tend to hearts. Those are very different things. The latter is the place that ripples out into eternity.
In praying for grace to do this to the praise of His glorious grace, I began to see the picture of the Potter and the clay. I remembered singing an old hymn about this growing up. I also thought about the times I heard teachings about this idea, and I found this verse while reading:
“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
I wasn’t sure exactly what I needed to see in this until a few days later. Surely God created the clay (each of us). I saw that clearly right away. Surely He is the one who makes us into beautiful things as we surrender to Him. In that, as a parent, something new became clear.
The idea that God made my children, but then gave them to me to teach and raise, was giving me the task of readying the clay.
A potter can’t work with clay that is not ready to be used. It won’t go well if the clay has just been created and sat out without being worked on. I took some art classes in college and saw people work hard to get their clay ready after it was made. As they created their bowls, vases, and such, they knew how important it was to prepare it to be shaped and ready for the fire of the kiln.
I have seen the results of unprepared “clay” in so many situations. I have seen children who were never loved or disciplined in love be molded and shaped by people besides their parents who loved them. It was almost like they had been waiting for it their whole lives. They loved to be loved. They loved to be invested in – not made into a project, but to be genuinely cared for.
God made my children, and gave them to me to help make them ready to know Him and His love, His voice, His heart. It is evident to me in that preparation, there will be times that are hard, but oh I see the joy in having children raised up ready to be shaped and used by the Potter to become beautiful vessels.
It is work to get clay ready to use, and that means pressing it and digging in sometimes. One thing I’ve also seen over and over is parents who also are afraid to press into this with their children.
I’ve seen kids become young adults and grown ups who have no concept of consequence or responsibility because their parents tried to make life so easy for them. Clay has to go into the kiln and endure the fire for the potter to be finished making it into something. I wonder if we consider that God being the potter means that we will have to watch our kids go through some pain to be used sometimes. I wonder how many people never are fully able to be prepared to be used because everyone wanted to protect them from the hard stuff of life, the consequences of their own actions, or the discipline given out through love that they really needed.
Readying the clay is not the same as trying to make everything okay by being unwilling to get our hands dirty or by trying to be the clay for our children and keeping God from actually getting to them to use them. We can’t do this and expect the Potter to ever be able to make something beautiful out of them.
I think this is why so many flee from the good discipline of the Lord. We love feeling good about ourselves but rarely welcome anyone pointing us to more when we aren’t walking as we should. God is so good that He won’t abandon us in our sin, and sometimes we have to hurt to see what we are actually doing and that what He has for us is better. The hurt isn’t Him punishing or wanting to make us bleed, but I think the hurt is in things we were never meant to hold onto being wrenched away from us so we can see Him.
How many parents have seen their children’s willful disobedience to God, but still tried to make everything okay for them through justifications or excuses? I have definitely learned that people who live this way and want to blame God and everyone else for the outcome don’t need your help making excuses – they are good at that all on their own. Don’t get in the way of what God is trying to burn away in sin in them because you want to protect them. Don’t hold on so tightly that you become a stumbling block for them to ever lift up their eyes and see what God has for them.
“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” – Hebrews 12:4-8
Anyone who loves their children knows that discipline is necessary. That can be a tender word of caution, a gentle reminder, and sometimes discipline is more because it’s meant to point your child to something better. Every time God has disciplined me its to point me to what He has for me when I chased what I had for me.
We all want to be children of the King and called that, but how many of us welcome His discipline? How many of us say, “Yes Lord, no matter the pain or the cost, your ways are better than mine, I trust in you, and whatever the kiln looks like, I want your way for me above mine!”
I want to raise those kind of people. I want to unleash world changers on the globe who are more concerned with following the Lord than the cost or their desires. Oh that God would give me grace to prepare that kind of clay!
As we tend to our children’s hearts, I hope we would be mindful that we are helping them see their place in eternity and God and His love above all things. I pray that we would not grow weary or try to make our clay ready to look like what we think it should or that we would try to keep our kids from any hurt to the point that we abandon them in their willful sin.
God is good. He is the Potter, and in His hands I know my children can be trusted and made into what He will call them to, and in that I know His love for me is more than I deserve.