"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Going To Pot—Our Highest Calling

            Generations ago, when food prepared in the kitchen was reduced to scraps, the cook simply dumped them into the stew-pot, or the pig-pot, depending on how plentiful the raw materials were. So when someone observed you had gone to pot, it wasn't a complement. Thus, the term's modern use.
            When the Eternal God of Israel wanted to slap His people into shape, He called His prophet Jeremiah to observe a potter at work. (Jeremiah 18:1-6) Jeremiah witnessed a potter terminate his current, ambitious project when he uncovered a fault in the clay. Rather than throw out the whole lump of clay and start over, the potter realized there was still plenty of good clay left on the wheel for a vessel of lesser purpose. God's point? His people Israel had failed repeatedly to conform to the shape for which He chose them. But they were still as clay in His hands, not quite as glorious as they had been, perhaps, but God was determined to work them into a vessel suited for His purpose.
            Okay, good lesson for those old-timey guys, but now it's time we got back to our own lives. Well, hold your horses, cowboy. Don't go ridin' off the potter's wheel into the sunset. You're still raw clay, and God isn't finished with you yet. The decision as to when you're a finished vessel is not yours to make. Have you ever heard of a half-baked pot turning into anything good? Certainly not in God's pottery shop.
            If you're one of those rare Christians who still feels stresses in their lives there's a very good reason for it. Part of the Potter's work is to apply stresses to the whirling clay lump, and if we continue thinking of ourselves as lumps, we won't get all inflated with pride.
            The rest of the process is kind of interesting ... if you're a generic info-geek like me. Once all the pots are in their final shape, dried into bisque, and coated with raw glaze, the potter moves them into the kiln, stacking them carefully and densely for uniform firing. Inside the kiln, heating elements or gas jets slowly bring up the temperature until all the pots glow just the right shade of red.
            But there's a little-known hazard always present in the firing process. If one of the pots contains an air cavity as small as a pinhead, the air will expand in the heat until its pressure explosively fractures the clay surrounding it. A significant air cavity can explode with enough violence to shatter part or all of the potter's batch of vessels.
            Under the heat of final firing, a single pot's fault can ruin not only that pot, but all the potter's hard work. And it's all because of an air bubble. How crucial it is that we not become inflated with our own importance, so that under the heat of firing we won't blow it.

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