Smooshing the Clay

You and I—we’re not perfect.

We know that.

That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? We follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ because we know we’re not perfect. Because we need help. Because we want to be more like God.

And that’s the request we keep making, isn’t it?

“God, please make me more like You.”

Isaiah put it a little more eloquently: “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” (Isaiah 64:8).

We’re here because we want to be shaped by God. Because we want Him to mold and shape us into something better.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of that process as detail work. Oh, I know I have rough edges, and I know I have places that need serious attention, but I guess I tend to think of myself the same way a Realtor talks about a run-down house they’re trying to sell:

The bones are good.

I may be a long way from perfect, but surely I’m bringing a sort of general structure to the table that God can work with—right? He’s the Potter, we’re the clay, and He is gently reshaping us to fit the final product He has in mind.

Well, sort of.


Jeremiah saw a different side of the pottery analogy when God sent him to watch a potter at work: “There he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:3-4).

That’s not a gentle reworking.

That’s a hard restart.

In the pottery world, that’s known as “smooshing the clay.”

(That’s not true. I have no idea what it’s called in the pottery world, but it’s what I’m going to call it here.)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get smooshed. I don’t think anyone does. When the clay is sentient and self-aware, the idea of being pounded flat and then contorted into a brand-new configuration is not an appealing one.

What I’d like is to be tweaked. I feel like with some tweaks, I’m on track to become something halfway decent one day.

But God isn’t content to settle for halfway decent.

That’s not what He does.

He cares too much about us to settle for halfway decent. He isn’t making pottery with a limited lifespan, designed to be discarded after serving its function. He’s creating something precious, something with the potential to last for eternity.

Spiritually, that process involves the occasional smooshing.

God had a message for Jeremiah, and it’s one that sounds a little calloused at first glance. “‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the LORD. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!'” (Jeremiah 18:6).

God knows what we need to be.

He knows what needs to be changed, what needs to be reworked, and what needs to be completely transformed.

He knows when to smoosh us.

As much as we’d prefer our prayer of “God, please make me like you” to be about detail work, the simple truth of the matter is that trusting God to make us more like Him means trusting God to know the best way to make us more like Him.

“But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay?” (Romans 9:20-21).

We don’t have God’s perspective and wisdom; we can’t tell Him how He ought to be shaping us.

The only thing we can do is choose to trust the process. To trust the fact that, maybe, God has different shapes in mind for us at different points in our lives. God might want us to understand what it means to be in one shape or another before bringing us to our final stage of completion.

But until that final stage—until we’re fired in the spiritual kiln, tempered into something perfectly shaped and flawless—it’s our job to trust the Potter.

The smooshing is not something arbitrary, performed out of boredom or carelessness. God tells us, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19). Every time we find ourselves getting smooshed—reworked and reshaped on the wheel of the Potter—we can be confident that it’s something God is doing out of love. Even His rebuke and chastening comes from a place of love—from a desire to see us become whole and complete, living with Him as His children forever.

There’s a lot of hope in what Jeremiah saw in the potter’s house. After the potter smooshed the clay back down, “he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”

As it seemed good to the potter.

What seems good to God is good. When He does what seems good to Him in our lives, we can be confident that it is good—and not just good, but exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

When we pray, “God, please make me more like you,” we can pray it knowing that the process that follows—however difficult, however uncomfortable, however intense—is taking us toward that incredible future, one smoosh at a time.

Until next time,

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