Title : The Art of Pottery Making
This article was written in May 2015, just after the Nepal earthquake. It was for my school alumni. I have made changes for this FB post in CFC. It is dedicated to the suffering humanity around the world. May the Sovereign Lord comfort and strengthen us in our painful and darkest moments of our lives. May God raise up a generation of Christians tested and tried in the fires of affliction. And may He help us see His plans and purposes fulfilled in our days. God bless! Bro Ezra Chim.
Isaiah 64:8 (NKJV)
But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
Jeremiah 18:1-3 (NKJV) The Potter and the Clay
18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.
Romans 9:21 (NKJV)
Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
The world stands in solidarity with Nepal on the powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.7 that hits the nation on Sunday 26th April 2015. Death toll rose to 1,910 and still counting. At least 17 people were reported killed on Mount Everest, where the quake caused multiple avalanches. An estimated 4.6 million people in the region were exposed to tremors from the massive earthquake. The quake was the strongest in the region in more than 80 years. The last massive earthquake to hit central Nepal was in the 1931 earthquake. It was 8.1 magnitude, centered near Mount Everest and killed more than 10,000 people in 1931. We pray for the Nepalese people to be strong and united to rebuild the nation again.
We often ask why this has to happen to a small nation tucked away in the high mountains? If there is a good God or divine being, why does He permit this huge human suffering? Does the other nations cared to help? What have they done to deserve this massive devastation? Most importantly in our lives where we are far away from this disaster, do we really sympathize and care for the Nepalese people? Can we do something about it? Do we really put love into action?
On this subject of pain and suffering, I must apologize that I do not have all the answers as a normal human being. This area of testing and tribulation by fire belongs to the Almighty! HE ALONE is MERCY and the FINAL JUDGE of mankind. Only the Almighty God is SOVEREIGN over all things! God is still in CONTROL over all that’s happening in our world today.
Why is there so much pain and suffering in our human experience? This is my personal reflections and I must qualify myself that I am a “work-in-progress” clay pot in the hands of the Divine Potter. God is still working through my life for His glory.
I wish to relate this pottery making story to my Christian life. In the 1990’s, I was working for an oil and gas multinational company in Malaysia. My company sells kerosene and diesel to the pottery making industry in Kuala Kangsar, in the state of Perak for heating up the furnaces. In this unique town, we find a small cottage industry where they produce beautiful decorative clay pots for keeping dry flowers, water containers, lamp stands and stand alone pots of beauty. The potters worked really hard to produce many types of clay pots. In this experience I observed that there were many parallel scriptural truths that we can discover together:
1. Collection of raw clay from the river beds. Early in the morning, the potters will set out to the river banks nearby to collect raw clay either by buckets or by small lorry. If you see the greater scheme of things in the world, the Almighty God does the same as the ordinary potter. HE too goes into the riverbanks of humanity to pick up the “raw clay” for His “pottery making business.” We are chosen by the Divine Potter. It is a great privilege to be chosen by God to do great things for Him.
2. The clay is then dried in the sun. It is spread out evenly to dry and to kill off any worms and impurities within the raw clay. Other unwanted materials like dead wood, weeds and contamination are removed as well. The sun’s heat will dry up the unwanted impurities and later removed physically by the potter’s hand. Similarly, God will apply heat using light to dry up any impurities and unwanted material in our lives. The first heating process is using the sun’s rays, the gift of nature. In the supernatural realm, the Lord’s light, the Word of God, will shine into the dark corners of our lives and removes our sin and rebellion.
3. After drying in the sun and the impurities removed, the potter will then mix with water again to form “sticky dough”, just like “roti-canai dough” in Malaysia. The potter will press and beat the dough with a huge stick till it is “elastic and flexible” enough for the next process. Here you will notice that after the drying up process in the sun, the clay is re-mixed with water for it to stick together again. The water is symbolic with the living Word of God, the Living Water. Our new creation lives in Christ are intermingled and pressed together with the Living Word of God, the Bible. We became “sticky dough for Christ” or the contagious Christians sharing joyfully about salvation and bringing others to Christ.
4. The dough is then placed on the potter’s wheel. It turns around by using the potter’s leg while the hand does the pressing, shaping and re-shaping if required. Slowly, the clump of dough takes shape as the wheel turns and the potter will use his finger pressure to shape the pottery he wants. Human life is the same at the Potter’s wheel. As we go through the turning wheels and the finger pressure of the Almighty, our final product for use will eventually takes shape. Some will be used as decoration, others for containing water, flowers and other uses. His divine plan and purpose will be fulfilled in and through us by the Divine Potter. He shapes us into the person that He wants us to be. It’s about His will and purpose for us as a lump of clay in the Potter’s hand.
5. The last process is the heating process. The furnace is heated either by wood, kerosene or diesel. The potteries are heated in a furnace usually in batches. The furnace is heated up to 500 degrees C. It is a very hot environment and used to fortify and strengthen the wet clay pots. In this final process in our lives, the heating temperature, suffering, testing and/or tribulation is turned up very high. It often goes beyond the limits of human endurance. It is a very painful process in life where you find you are struggling alone and the heat is unbearable. All of the human self is burnt away in the furnace. Only God alone and His mercies remain in the furnace of life. The heat in life can be from disappointments, disasters, diseases, un-forgiveness, failures, and all kinds of trials and tribulations. The extreme heat will dry up and fortify the wet clay potteries in the furnace. Just like gold ore, it must go through the furnace to remove all the dross and impurities. Eventually it comes out from raw gold ore to pure gold (99.9 carat). No pain no gain. Finally, the finished product is ready to be displayed and used for the very purpose it was created to be. Our life is the same. After the final check up at the finished line, God is ready to display us and use our refined and beautiful lives for His Kingdom purpose and for His glory.
The process of pottery making is not simple. It is a long and tedious business. Similarly, before we can extend our hand and life to help others with a pure heart of mercy and compassion, the Almighty God has to choose, purge, shape, strengthen and fortify us first. It is a long process of training and preparation for advancing His Kingdom on earth.
The pain that the nation of Nepal is going through is beyond human comprehension, just like the recent 9/11, Aceh Tsunami, the Japanese earth quake, tornadoes, typhoons, terrorist attacks and other human and natural catastrophes that hit mankind. Even when we watch the events unfolding in a foreign land through live TV and internet coverage, we are affected somehow by the pains of humanity because we lived under the same sky.
In all these trials and tribulations by fire, I believe God is raising the chosen sons and daughters who are pure, tested, faithful and strong to reach out to the world with the destiny changing Gospel before Jesus Christ comes again. We are living in perilous times and we can see the events of the end times unfolding in our days. God is shaking humanity to wake up from their long slumber and to seek after the true and living God in Christ while there is still time and opportunity.
Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV): Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Job 23:10 (NKJV): But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
We fulfill the plans and purposes of God in our lives only when we totally surrender our lives to HIM, just like the clay in the potter’s hand. Our faith in God must be tested and tried in the furnace of affliction. We know that God’s plan will still be carried out through human pain and suffering. His eternal plan prevails over our present circumstances whatever it may be. This is the domain of the Divine Potter, the supernatural working God. It is not of any human beings. God knows the plan ahead for every individual as well as every nation He created. He knows what He is doing. Ultimately, He will bring to pass what was written in the Bible.
Jeremiah 29: 11 (NASB): 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) : 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
My brothers and sisters, please pray and ask the Lord to raise up a generation of mighty saints of the Lord, tested, strengthened and fortified in the fires of affliction and filled with the Holy Spirit to reach out to all of Nepal and even to the uttermost parts of the world before His second coming.
I believe the Lord is doing great and mighty things in our midst in these last days. This is His creation. The whole earth is His! He is the Divine Potter and He is still working. And are we doing His work as well?
Hallelujah! Praise His Holy Name!
Be blessed my brothers and sisters.
Written by : Bro Chim