Sunday, February 19, 2012
Collapsed in His Embrace
I heard a dull thump as I entered the church. Like a heavy heart thrown against the floor.
I wasn’t far off.
We had a special speaker that Sunday morning, a potter. He stood near the edge of the platform with a large block of red clay in his hands and slammed it onto the tarp-covered stage. Then he picked it up and slammed it down again.
I knew the Old Testament account of God sending Jeremiah to the potter’s house. I liked the part about the artisan creating a useable vessel. I didn’t like what I was seeing at the moment.
Our guest held cold and unyielding clay. He had to soften it, make it pliable before he could use it. The force of his throw surprised me, but his purpose was clear and focused. Justified, though fierce.
The Bible hadn’t mentioned this part. Did it apply, too?
The potter seated himself behind his wheel, a small mound of formless clay in the center of it. He set it to spinning, dipped his hands in a bowl of water, and then tenderly grasped the clay, wrapping his fingers around it, smoothing it upward, downward, dipping again in the water and returning to the clay.
His slightest impression made a rim at the top. The potter pressed his fingers into the clay and slowly it cratered. He reached into the center and pulled, it seemed, for the sides beneath the edge began to grow, stretching upward and out. All this time he spoke, telling us how God had worked in his life, how He had carried him through divorce and loneliness, out of darkness and into light. Into marriage again. Into ministry. His voice soothed us as gently as his fingers smoothed the clay that transformed before our eyes.
The potter’s patience and pressure created a large bowl from that formless lump. Just the right amount of water, just the right speed of the wheel, just the right movement of his fingers. We were transfixed by the miracle.
He stopped, dried his hands on a towel, and picked up a tall, stately vase from a nearby pedestal. He continued speaking, but his words slipped away as I fixed my eyes on the vase, not yet fired, still the dark copper color of workable clay. As he spoke, he turned the lovely vase in his hands, revealing the other side—disfigured by jagged cuts that marred its symmetrical grace and made it unfit to use.
And then he wrapped his arms around the piece and pressed it to his body, crushing it against his chest. The vase collapsed in his embrace, and he folded it over and into itself and spoke of how he would remake it.
It would be new, he said. Nothing would be lost.
He would make it a worthy vessel, a thing of beauty and purpose again.
In that moment I felt the gentle pressure of fingers on my heart. And I understood the hope of healing at the touch of the Potter’s hand.