In the Office: The Potter’s Hands

When I was in college, the campus ministry in which I participated frequently sang a song called “Change My Heart, O God.” In part, the lyrics went like this:

You are the Potter; I am the clay.
Mold me and make me; this is what I pray.
Change my heart, O God; make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God; may I be like you.

potters-wheel-verseGenerally, this song was sung at a “reflective” point in worship – often as an act of preparation before hearing the message or as an act of response immediately afterward – and typically, it was sung in a mood of “reverent trust” – a sense that the Potter who fashions us will, in fact, lovingly craft us to become more like Himself.

But I wonder if we really considered might be required in order for the Potter to form us in the image of Christ?

I ask that question because one of today’s readings from the Daily Office echoes that potting image. In Isaiah 64, the prophet says:

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.(v. 8)

What shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is the fact that this image is referenced not in the midst of worship but in the midst of suffering. God’s people w3ere being assailed by enemies and confronted by the reality of their sin. Their sense of connection to God had been broken; and in circumstances like that, I can’t help but wonder if being “molded and made” by the Potter carries some very different implications.

Let’s face it: Asking God to “change our hearts” is relatively easy when we’re convinced that all we need are a few minor tweaks. But to offer the same prayer when it’s clear that we will need to be broken and remade…well, that’s a different matter.

And yet, our collegiate worship song and the prophet Isaiah got this right: The One who does that breaking and remaking is, in fact, our Father. His plans are not to harm us, but to give us a future and a hope. And if we will bear patiently our time upon the potter’s wheel, He will fashion us in a manner suited to His purposes.

I pray that the Potter’s hands will hold us gently today. But even if the sculpting we need is of a more uncomfortable kind, I pray that we will have the kind of fierce and reckless faith in our Father that allows us to see His hand, even in our struggles.

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