Shaped by the potter
(Isaiah 64: 8 says, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the works of your hand.” Do you believe? Do you believe that God is the one who made us, who molds us and shapes us? Sure, I think most of us believe it. I certainly believe. Which raises a second question: If we believe God is the Potter and we are the clay, then why do we so often act as if it is the other way around? We go to God with our wish list of thing we want God to do for us. We say to God, “Shape me this way; color me that way; shape me just the way I want.” Now that doesn’t mean we are asking God to shape us in bad ways or give us frivolous things. It does mean that we like to be in control of what God does in our lives. We like to be in charge of our personal spiritualities. We pray, “God, give me compassion for others,” while in the back of our minds we are saying, “but not too compassionate. I don’t want to be a fool.” Or we say, “God, make me your servant,” while whispering to ourselves, “but don’t bother me from 8 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday when my favorite show is on.” Rather it should be the clay in the hands of the Potter.
“Okay,” you say, “I get it, but how do I let God shape me?” There are a number of ways we can open ourselves up to be shaped by God. One way is seeking and listening for God’s direction in our lives, then, putting one foot in front of the other to follow God’s direction, even if it isn’t a direction we ever considered before. Another way is praying daily for God’s will and saying with Jesus “not my will but yours be done.” As we walk in God’s direction of our lives, we are shaped by God as we follow his path. When we follow God’s will for our lives each day, we are shaped daily by the Potter.
Another way to be shaped by the Potter is to let God’s Word get into us. The Bible was never meant just to be read and studied, learning and discussed. It was meant to change us from inside out. The Bible is not primarily meant for information, but transformation. Often as we read the Bible, we are in awe of God’s miracles and power, we are amazed by Jesus’ gift for stories, we marvel at the disciples’ courage, then we move on to the next chapter. Some of us become pretty fair Bible scholars; we know our Bibles. And knowing our Bibles is a good thing, but it is not enough. More importantly, are we letting our Bibles get into us? Are we living God’s Word’s? Are we letting the Bible shape us?”
In the fourth century after Christ, there was a man who wanted to learn God’s word, so he went to one of the Bible experts of the day and asked him to share from the Bible. The expert shared just one verse. The seeker said, “That is enough,” and he went out and spent the next 25 years of his life learning to live that one verse.” Over time as the man pondered just one verse deeply, he was shaped by God.
The Bible is meant to be pondered and chewed on as a dog chews a bone; the Bible is not meant to read quickly and put aside. We are meant to allow ourselves to become part of the stories of God, so that we can become part of God’s story for the world. God’s Word is meant to be turned over and over in our hearts, not just discussed with our minds. Better one verse pondered and lived, than all verses read or even memorized. As we ponder God’s Word deeply with God’s Spirit to guide us, it infuses our very being and we will discover that God is shaping us.
Pastor Diann O’Bryant is the minister of Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman St., Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or email@example.com. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer’s convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.