Ball of Clay
We are imperfect, scarred, sometimes broken vessels but we don’t always understand why. We get angry with our children when they grow up and make mistakes that change their future or hurt their chances. We wanted to believe when they were little that they were pure…faultless. If anyone is blameless it has to be our children. We don’t want to take responsibility for where they fall short because that’s too big a load, but we’re certain in therapy we can find an excuse for our own shortcomings in our childhood.
Each of us enters the world as a very soft ball of clay, full of possibilities and the promise that the Great Sculptor can mold us into His beautiful vessels. In the beginning a man and a woman were literally made from the dust. They were beautiful, blameless, pure and in the presence of God. But, they were given free will and they messed it up. From that moment on, we’ve come out of the womb with everything they had, all of the possibilities of a lump of clay, but we’ve inherited a little more. In the womb, as little balls of soft clay we’ve inherited some of the thorns and pebbles they had purely because we come from the same line of humanity. We have seeds that grow into weeds buried deep within us. We have thorns on the surface and some wedged so deep we can’t see them. There is a layer of dust on the outside and a pebble now and then that has been imprinted in the clay. We, very literally, have leaves covering the parts that are too vulnerable in hopes to make it hurt less.
We want to believe that we can trust God with our kids, that His will is done, that everything has and will happen for a reason. These are the clichés we hold on to. Sayings often become clichés because they are true. The difficulties we experience, the injustice and suffering all around us do happen for a reason. This is the fallen world we live in…fallen because in the beginning we made an unwise choice, and we continue to do so. That had nothing to do with the Lord. He didn’t choose it, will it, or even inhibit us from doing it. He allowed it so that we could choose Him. We walked away.
In the same way, we have a choice now. God delegated some things to us… gave us our list of chores, if you will. Some of these things are to raise our children, serve our spouses, love the people around us and share His word. That little ball of clay, our child, when it arrives is beautiful. It has all the mastery of the Lord! But, this clay needs our diligence and care from the very beginning. We must offer protection from the imminent dust storm, so that we can mold and build it, keep it soft, and tenderly knead out the thorns embedded deep within our children’s humanity. This can hurt you and your ball of clay in the process! But, it will refine you both. This is a hands on experience…a holy project and task. The water you will use to keep it moist and pliable is the word of God. And I believe, the softer clay we are as parents, the more sensitive we are to the leading of the Holy Spirit, the softer our kids’ hearts will remain. God uses our hands to help Him mold these kids, and while they are young, we can enlist the help of other trusted hands to shape them.
As adults, we often get hardened because we quit allowing the Lord to keep us soft and pliable. And, because our parents are imperfect too, we become a product of what was left in the clay. We have deep cracks when the clay hardens around even the smallest stone. We have thorns that keep us from taking the shape we were intended. Yet, that is what makes every piece of work so unique.
The hope in this, the encouragement, is that the Lord can bring you back to the softest ball of clay over and over again. We are always a work in progress. Remember, our Sculptor is the God who can tell dirt (and waves, and the universe) what to do! You are made from the same dust he molded man from the very first time! He can rub a little Heavenly spit on you and knead you back to the way you first started.
I’ll be honest, it will hurt. I know because I’ve been there. Having a special needs child is a daily process of being made holy through painful sculpting. I know from experience it will feel like you’ve been shattered. It will be humbling because all the shape you’ve taken may lose its form. But, isn’t that the point? If we’ve formed ourselves into a vessel we want to be, but it’s not the vessel God wants us to be, don’t we want to defer to the Master’s artistry?
I want to be as soft as I once was.
Lord, you use your Word and the people in our lives who really love us to pull the pebbles and thorns out of our tender clay hearts. Your mercy continually wipes the dust off each time the wind blows. Help me to cherish this process, and engage in it with my children. May I take hope that no matter what I miss in each of my children’s hearts,, You can always redeem. I love them as my own creation but I know the first ball of clay was always your creation. Thank you that I get to participate in the artistry. That’s a blessing I’m honored to be a part of.
May we allow Jesus to cure all of our clay, so that in your eyes Lord we will have been through the fire and become your perfect creation again. May we choose You. Amen.
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