The Potter and the Clay
Spiritual Story by Unknown
The story is told of a couple who went to England to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and shopped at a beautiful antique store. They both liked antiques and pottery,and especially tea-cups,and so spotting an exceptional cup,they asked “May we see that? We’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful.”
As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the tea-cup spoke… “You don’t understand.” It said, “I have not always been a tea-cup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, Don’t do that. I don’t like it! “Let me alone,” but he only smiled, and gently said; “Not yet!!” “Then, WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick!” I screamed.
But the master only nodded and said, quietly; ‘Not yet.’
He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then…he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door.
“Help! Get me out of here!” ‘Not yet.’ When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool.
Oh, that felt so good! “Ah, this is much better,” I thought. But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible.. “Oh, please, Stop it! Stop it!” I cried. He only shook his head and said. “Not yet…”
Then suddenly he put me back into the oven. Only it was not like the first time. This time it was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged… I pleaded… I screamed…I cried… I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up and just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited and waited, wondering “What’s he going to do to me next?”
An hour later he handed me a mirror and said “Look at yourself.”
And I did… I said, “That’s not me, that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!”
Quietly he spoke: “I want you to remember, then,” he said, “I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.
“I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life.
“And if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”
I just finished reading the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy this morning. I am struck by the notion that life is what we make of it with God’s help. We have choices to make–this way or that way. We can choose right or wrong, good or best, my way or His.
Horrible, sometimes terrifying, circumstances invade out lives. Sometimes it’s the consequences of our actions, but at other times it’s through no fault of our own. We ask, sometimes beg, God to take away the trial, but still it remains. I’ve been there—walking through the valley of the shadow of death—where nothing you do seems like the right thing and there’s darkness all around. I have felt the despondency that Katniss felt in book 3, Mockingjay. I have even considered suicide a time or two. It’s at those times that I felt God’s hand stay mine, just as he kept Abraham from sacrificing Isaac.
There was/is a greater purpose for our lives. We were put here to do something significant. The world may never see it, but God does. He sees when we help the child find his/her mother. He sees when we invest our time in something that offers us no reward, except the satisfaction of having done it. He sees when we are a light in the darkness.
None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. A tornado, earthquake, illness, car accident, or stray bullet could claim our lives at any time. What will you do with the time that you have here?
What will I do? My answer is simply, “I don’t know.” Sometimes I don’t know what to do. I stand and wait. Unsure. Unsure of myself. Unsure of my faith. Unsure of my purpose in this life.
What I do know is that I plan to pray more, seek my Father more intimately, and help those in my sphere of influence as opportunity arises.
A long time ago I read this “parable” and it touched me and I’ve never forgotten it. I found it at Spiritual Short Stories, but that is not where I first read it.
Many times I have read this story and thought I was waiting on the shelf. It’s seems for a long time I was on that shelf, perhaps learning patience or some other thing that would help me be the vessel God would have me be. I told my husband recently that I think I have come off the shelf and that it’s my time to pull away from the shadows, where I have been content to stay until now, and do what God has called me to do next—write. It really doesn’t matter if I’m published and gain monetary rewards for my work. It only matters that I am doing what glorifies Him.
Wow…I don’t know where all that came from, except to say it’s from my heart today. Maybe this is for you, maybe not. But I hope it blessed you anyway.