Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pottery Ponderings

Recently I have been posting about hikes and other things rather than pottery. In the past month I have been reunited with pottery and love it! I purchased a used electric wheel and set up a make shift studio in a storage room at the house we are renting. The space is small but wonderful. I leave the door open so I get fresh air, sunshine and can look out at the pine, cedar and aspen trees in our yard. My soul is happy and feeling very restored.

The first few weeks I threw many random things and tried throwing with larger amounts of clay. My wrists have been feeling so much better and this has been a great encouragement. Some folks at a fellowship we visit prayed for my wrists a few times and they are truly being healed! In the past few days I have been working on some really fun mugs. I have nailed down a few mug shapes I really like and am having a blast creating beards and mustaches to put on the mugs. I will post pictures of the first step (pre-Bisque firing) so you can see these beauties.

That was the update. The following paragraphs are my most recent pottery ponderings from the wheel.

Yesterday as I was centering some clay Jesus spoke to me very clearly. This clay was a little difficult to center and I knew there was an air pocket somewhere. When this happens, for those of you who don't know, you have to push the clay down with a lot of pressure. If the clay is in a cone or cylinder shape you have to flatten it out. This forces the air pocket to 'surface' so you can poke it with the needle tool and 'pop' it. As I was pressing the clay down and looking for the air pocket Jesus spoke to me about how he uses circumstances, trials, seasons in life to press me so that he can address the 'pockets' that are keeping my life from being truly centered. Let me expound on that a little.....

We often wrestle with the reality of God's goodness in the midst of the reality of the hardships of life. Most of us go one of two ways in our thinking and living. Some of us fall for a theology that says God is an angry judge sitting 'upstairs' waiting for us to screw up so he can punish us. This is terrible theology. Those who do not think and live with that theology usually have to compromise the absolute goodness of God. This results in a fatalistic theology and leads to skeptism and cynism. Neither of these are good or true theologies.

The reality is that God is truly absolutely good. In all he does and in all he allows. My life experience has shown that, much like when I am centering clay, God works through pressure to bring to surface aspects of my life that are keeping me from being centered in him. An air pocket can cause a noticable wobble in the clay which will show up as I pull up the wall, trim the piece and in the end will look terrible in the finished product. In the same way there are places of our heart, mind and soul that cause a wobble in our journey of life and in the end, if not addressed by God's love and mercy, will result in an imperfect piece of art. So, when you are faced with trials, stresses or just gloomy days, first thank God for his absolute goodness, then come before him with your prayers-earnest and honest prayers.

Paul wrote to the church in Phillipi. "Always be joyful, then in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everyone. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7.

May this be an encouragement to each of us. God is truly good and is in control of everything all the time. Our response needs to be one of thankfulness and our prayers need to be "shot through with gratitude." After thanking him we can then tell him honestly what our desires are. A quick example: my wrists have been affected by carpal tunnel syndrome over the last year. I am just now realizing how God has used this as a 'pressure' on my heart to address deep issues keeping me from being centered such as trusting his goodness. The times I respond in anger, asking God 'why' result only in my heart growing bitter. Over the last month, by his grace, I have been able to respond with gratitude first and then saying, 'Father, I want my wrists to be healed. I trust your goodness.' My heart remains humble and thankful and I still ask for healing.