I decided to take the art class the last semester of my college career. Beginning Ceramics, it was called. With two of my close friends signed up to take it with me, I felt sure this would be an easy A to cap off my four years of college.
Of course, the professor made it look easy. Slap a bit of clay on a wheel and in minutes, you can make anything: a vase, a plate, a bowl, a cup.
However, four weeks into the course, I was still struggling to make something that didn’t bear a passing resemblance to a mudpie. How did he do it?
Everyday, I went to the art lab, determined that today was the day I would finally make something out of that wet lump of earth. I dutifully set out my tools, shaped my clay into a ball and slapped it down on the wheel. But a funny thing seemed to happen: no matter how hard I tried, my clay would end up either flying off the wheel (only funny the first three times it happened!) or would end up looking like a lopsided modern art creation (but worth much, much less).
As the deadline drew near for my first projects, a simple bowl and cylinder, I felt so frustrated that I just couldn’t seem to get it right. My creations were all lop-sided, one side bulging out slightly, formed when I couldn’t find the perfect hub of the pottery wheel.
The Bible often uses the imagery of God as the Potter, crafting his children lovingly with his hands. But after my own feeble attempt at being the potter, I learned that the center of the wheel is the key to creating something beautiful.
Think about it: do we really center our lives and souls on Christ’s love? Or are we vainly trying to let God shape us into His creations while we’re lop-sided balls of clay on His wheel, in danger of flying off because we want to go our own way?
I know I have very rarely been at the middle of the wheel. So many things push me off-center: worries, doubts, the stresses of life. Thinking I can make do it all on my own. Sometimes I feel like that slippery, muddy mess of clay, inching closer to the edge of the plate with every turn of the wheel, helpless to stop and crying out to the Master Potter.
And God’s gentle, loving Hands are always there, patiently nudging this stubborn ball of clay back to the Heart of His wheel.
I can’t say I’ve mastered the technique of staying centered on God but I do know the secret; it’s spelled out pretty clearly in Galations 2:20.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Guess what? The wheel of life moves fast. Just like a ship can get dashed against sharp rocks if it is not securely anchored, so can the Christian get splattered against the wall if he or she is not securely centered on God. But the good news is that since God is the Potter, he’s also controlling the wheel and its speed, and He’s not going to let it move any faster than what He knows you can handle.
Here’s to making God the center of our 2017!