Today’s Scripture: Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:20-21

When an artisan takes a lump of clay, only he has a picture in his mind of what that silly, little lump can become. He takes the clay and starts pounding it back and forth in his hands. Wham! Wham! Wham! I know the lump of clay is thinking, Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Then the master craftsman rubs the lump into a round ball. The clay thinks, “This is more like it!”

Suddenly, the maker hits the lump with all his force and continues to push, knocking the breath out of the poor lump. This lasts until the lump is ready to go on the potter’s wheel.

Now the lump thinks, “I have gone through all this pain and anguish, and now he wants to make me seasick! What’s the point of all this, anyway? I liked being just a lump! Yes, it was a little boring, but is all this suffering worth it?”

Around and around the lump goes on the wheel. Slowly, slowly, the craftsman forms the clay. Little by little, the lump is transformed.

Finally, it seems like the master knows what he is doing. The lump likes what is happening until suddenly, the master sighs and firmly smashes the clay back into a ball.

The lump of clay is discouraged. At this point, it is thinking, “What now? This man is a maniac! Surely, he does not know what he is doing, nor does he really care about me. He is just having fun at my expense.”

But the man is not done. He had seen something the lump could not — a small defect that would have shelved the clay for the rest of his life if the master had continued without starting over.

Slowly, he begins again. This time, a real work of art is coming almost magically out of his gentle hands.

Finally, after much pounding, prodding, stretching, and molding, he is done. What a work of beauty and grace he has made— and none of it would have been possible if the clay had not been willing to suffer!

Devotional by Jim Scudder, Jr.