The clay is put into the potter’s hands, and then lies passive there, submitting itself to all the turnings and overturnings of the potter’s hands upon it. There is really nothing else to be said about the clay’s part. But what must the potter do?
The potter takes the clay and begins to mold and fashion it according to his own will. He kneads and works it; he tears it apart and presses it together again; he wets it and then suffers it to dry. Sometimes he works at it for hours together; sometimes he lays it aside for days, and does not touch it. And then, when by all these processes he has made it perfectly pliable in his hands, he proceeds to make it up into the vessel he proposed. He turns it on the heel, planes it and smooths it, and dries it in the sun, bakes it in the oven, and finally turns it out of his workshop, a vessel to his honor and fit for his use.
The clay is not expected to do the potter’s work, but only to yield itself up to his working.
What can be said about man’s part in this great work but that he must continually surrender himself and continually trust?
The lump of clay could never grow into a beautiful vessel if it stayed in the clay pit. But when it is put into the hands of a skillful potter it grows rapidly, under his fashioning, into the vessel he intends it to be. And in the same way the soul, abandon to the working of the Heavenly Potter, is made into a vessel onto honor, sanctified for the Master’s use.
Having taken the step of faith by which you have put yourself wholly and absolutely into His hands, you must now expect Him to begin to work. His way of accomplishing that which you have entrusted to Him may be different from your way; but He knows, and you must be satisfied.
Maturity can not be reached in a moment, but is the result of the work of God’s Holy Spirit. We cannot hope to reach this maturity in any way other than by yielding ourselves up, utterly and willingly, to His mighty working.
The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter is, during each day and hour of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour. Or on that day, and therefore pleases him; but it is very far from being matured into the vessel he intends in the future to make it.
The apple in June is a perfect apple for June but it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple.
By an act of faith we put ourselves in the hands of the Lord, for Him to work in us all the great pleasure of His will, and then, by a continuous exercise of faith, keep ourselves there. This is our part in the matter. And when we do it, and while we do it, we are, in the Scripture sense, truly pleasing God, although it may require years of training and discipline to mature us into a vessel that shall be in all respects to His honor, and fitted to every good work.
Our part is the trusting; it is His to accomplish the results. Trust is the beginning and the continuing foundation; but when we trust, the Lord works.
Just as the potter, however skillful, cannot make a beautiful vessel out of a lump of clay that is never put into his hands, so neither can God make out of me a vessel into His honor unless I put myself into His hands.
(Excerpts abridged from Hannah Whitaker Smith’s book, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life) Written in 1875.