Clay In the Potter’s Hands: a poem of trust

I am but clay in the potter’s hands,
a mass amongst many in the workshop of life.
Formless and shapeless, no use or demands,
simple and naive, unfamiliar to strife.

To my left rest many, resembling me,
but they’re hardened and drying, crumbling in state.
Though the potter offers moisture, graciously free,
they progressively resist, hardened by hate.

To my right I see others, flexible and cool,
eager to be molded by the potter’s hands.
They are gentle in texture, a pliable tool,
for them the potter possesses great plans.

I am but clay in the potter’s hands,
of all those around, he scoops ME up.
He knows I am ready for all the demands
required to shape me into a great cup.

As he begins kneading my grooves and my dimples,
I feel the great warmth of the potter’s touch.
But soon he starts stretching me into more than what’s simple
and I’m suddenly sure he is asking too much.

I resist and I struggle, as my moisture dries,
where I once was pliable, I soon start to tear.
In distress I realize I need the grace of the potter,
for alone I am helpless, it’s too tough to bear.

I am but clay in the potter’s hands,
when he sees I am struggling he meets all my needs.
Calmly he adds moisture to my drying sands,
I am instantly refreshed, I need not to plead.

And with that he continues to mold me and shape me,
he smooths out my edges and builds me up.
Before long I can tell that his plans are much grander
than simply to mold me into a small cup.

I find myself wondering what it is he is planning
as he massages my ridges and bends my dough.
I grow anxious and ask him of what he is manning,
but he smiles and says that’s not for me to know.

I am but clay in the potter’s hands,
does clay say to the potter, what is it you make?
Worry and fear are not from which I stand,
therefore I must trust the potter’s will is at stake.

As he finishes sculpting, I know I am changed,
I can feel my new ridges and sturdy base.
But just as I find ease in what was once strange,
I see there is more ahead I must face.

Life is not easy, not even for clay,
for heat is what makes us strong.
The kiln has been burning, awaiting my day
and the licks of the flames are long.

I am but clay in the potter’s hands,
my fate is not mine to choose.
I must trust that he knows his perfect plan,
and that I have nothing to lose.

As I’m led to the fire, the potter is gentle,
he knows I can only handle so much.
He assures me the end results will be plentiful
if I trust in him and remain tough.

So I face the adversity, the heat and the pain,
knowing the flame cannot bring my end.
Though I ache and I hurt and I want to place blame,
I cling to the hope that the potter sends.

I can feel myself toughening, my sides growing stiff
as the heat of life sturdies my flanks.
And though not long before I was struggling and burning
I now find myself giving thanks.

I am but clay in the potter’s hands,
as he draws me out of the fiery baker.
He was right, I’m not broken or weakened or cracked
I’m a strong tool in the hands of my Maker.

–Mo Isom, August 2012

This original poem was inspired by this Biblical passage:

Isaiah 45:9-12

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
‘How clumsy can you be?’
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
‘Why did you make me this way?’”
11 This is what the Lord says—
the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 I am the one who made the earth
and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
All the stars are at my command.

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The Life I Planned

The Life I Planned

by Beth Moore
*******
Has someone seen the life I planned?
It seems it’s been misplaced
I’ve looked in every corner
It’s lost without a trace
I’ve found one I don’t recognize
Things missing that were dear
Promises I’d hope to keep
And dreams I’d dreamed aren’t here
Faces I had planned to see
Hands I planned to hold
Now absent in the pictures
Not the way I told
Has someone seen the life I planned?
Did it get thrown away?
God took my hand from searching
Then I heard him say,
“Child, your ears have never heard
Your eyes have never seen
Eternal plans I have for you
Are more than you could dream.
“You long to walk by sight
But I’m teaching eyes to see.
I know what I am doing
‘Til then, you must believe.”
He’s done so much, I felt ashamed
To know He heard my moans
To think I’d trade in all He’s done
For plans made on my own.
I wept over His faithfulness
And how He’d proved Himself
How He’d gone beyond my dreams
And said to Him myself,
“No, my ears have never heard
My eyes have never seen
Eternal plans you have for me
Are more than I could dream.
“Yes, I long to walk by sight
But You’re teaching eyes to see
You know what You are doing
‘Til then, I must believe.”
I felt His great compassion
Mercy unrestrained
He let me mourn my losses
And showed me to my gains.
I offered Him my future
And released to Him my past
I traded in my dreams
For a plan He said would last.
I get no glimpse ahead
No certainties at all
Except the presence of the One
Who will not let me fall.
Are you also searching
For a life you planned yourself?
Have you looked in every corner?
Have you checked on every shelf?
Child, your ears have never heard
Your eyes have never seen
Eternal plans He has for you
Are more than you could dream.
Perhaps you long to walk by faith
But He’s teaching eyes to see
He knows what He is doing
Child, step out and believe.
*******
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind
has conceived what God has prepared
for those that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
*******
God Is Love.

Swimming Upstream

Hey there! Today’s post was inspired by an acquaintance of mine, and a brother in Christ.  He contacted me in regards to a speech he was preparing to give.  It was a speech about leadership, and He was wondering if I had any insight. I put his question into prayer for a few days and as I finally started to type my response, God painted the most beautiful metaphor in my mind. So, naturally, I wanted to share it with you all…

When we break down what leadership is, there are countless definitions, fundamentals, and examples of great leadership. One powerful element of leadership is radical fearlessness.  Now, that may sound cliché, but bear with me here and I will explain a little further…

Take a look around this world. Take a moment to think of a handful of leaders. Who are the leaders who you really notice? Who are leaders who you truly respect? The ones who move with the masses and blend in…or the ones who radically set themselves apart? The ones who are fearless of what will be thought of them, and are convicted in what they believe. Those are the individuals who have the power to lead because they can’t help but be noticed for swimming against the stream.

Think about a fish that swims against the stream. It swims with purpose, it swims with drive.  It stands out from the crowd and the flow, because it stirs up attention and doesn’t conform.  But it faces a lot of adversity–resistance from the masses, resistance from its environment. Everything tells that fish that what its doing is much harder than simply turning around and swimming with the flow. A fish that’s swimming against the stream faces a challenge, but faces it with intent.  It has a goal. It’s journey is uncomfortable and challenging, but it swims with heart. And IT CAN’T HELP BUT BE STRENGTHENED THROUGH THE JOURNEY. It can’t help but be noticed. Being a radically fearless leader is tough. When you swim against the stream, you undoubtedly meet a lot of resistance. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable at times, it’s challenging. But if you persist, it can’t help but strengthen you.

Jesus Christ was the primary example of a leader who was radically fearless. I mean, wow, take a look at any passage in the Bible. Jesus Christ was the definition of CONVICTED. He knew what He believed and He stood by His word. He completely set himself apart from everyone and He stood strong as He met resistance, faced adversity, and was criticized by the masses. But He was fearless. He set himself apart and swam against the current with humility, love, and courage. He was fearless in His teachings, He was fearless in the way He lived and, ultimately, He was fearless at the cross when He was condemned by those who couldn’t handle the power of His leadership. He was beautiful. And He was so radically fearless.

Now, as His followers, and as vessels for His truth and His light, we have to be radically fearless, as well. We have to believe in His love, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in our minds AND in our hearts. Then we have to begin swimming upstream from this world. We have to swim with the passion of chasing a Kingdom. We have to swim with the passion of striving for sanctification–a passion inspired by our beautiful Salvation. Swim with such passion and power that the resistance we meet stands no chance at altering our course. This world, everything in our society, everything our popular culture tells us is pleasurable and rewarding and fulfilling–it’s all empty. We have to be radically fearless in setting ourselves apart from this world. We have to be like Jesus–fearless of those that will judge and convicted in what we believe. In being radically different and setting ourselves apart, people will HAVE to see a difference in us. They will undoubtedly be inspired by Christ through us and we will, in turn, become leaders as well. But only if we can be radically fearless in our pursuit of Christ.

Does that metaphor make sense? Really think about it–are you fearless? Are you passionately in pursuit of Christ? Are you willing to swim up stream? 1 Timothy 6:12 calls us to “Fight the good fight of faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” And Galatians 6:9 encourages us by saying, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Fight the good fight! Don’t grow tired! Be radically fearless and swim passionately against the stream!


“His Mosaic”

I fancy myself a mosaic,

a mosaic constructed by God.

Intricately made, passionately displayed,

beautifully humble, yet odd.

 

For I once was I clean sheet of glass,

free from blemish or flaw.

I was polished and buffed, fragile but tough,

pure and simple, yet raw.

 

What you must understand, is a clean pane of glass

reflects light with splendor and awe.

But it lacks dimension, lacks retention

and only shines on an area, small.

 

But God took notice of my flawless pane

and saw potential for greatness and use.

He knew it would sting, He knew I would scream,

but He knew I could withstand abuse.

 

So He sat down, alone, on His sturdy workbench

and slid my heart into a darkened sack.

Though it hurt Him to do, He knew what was True,

so He swung a hammer and felt me crack.

 

The first blow of the hammer, I lost control

and was broken by an evil disease.

It consumed my thoughts, consumed my body,

but His hand still held me with ease.

 

The next blow of the hammer, my father was gone

and the pain split through to my core.

My breaks turned to shatters, my heart was left tattered,

but He knew I could withstand more.

 

The final swing of the hammer and everything stopped,

I stared death in its formidable eyes.

My body was broken, the pain left a token,

but my spirit was ever alive.

 

The King then sat back, with the sack in His hand,

filled with my broken self.

He then gently restored me, gently He poured me

onto a magnificent, heavenly shelf.

 

With much care and patience, God pulled on His gloves

and began to sift through my remains.

He took His sweet time with a vision, divine,

and pulled pieces of virtue and pain.

 

One-by-one He gently placed the fractures He pulled

into an empty and pure frame.

While I struggled and grew, a battle ensued,

and He humbly took all the blame.

 

But He never stopped working, rebuilding my heart,

He toiled throughout many years.

He so often showed grace, loved me through my disgrace,

and in time, He banished my fears.

 

An artist of power and an artist of Truth,

He carefully re-sculpted my heart.

With much concentration and much designation,

the beauty shone through from the start.

 

When His work was complete, He welcomed me back

and led my soul to His humble workbench.

With the pride of a Father in love with His daughter,

He held tight to my hands as they clenched.

 

He pulled back the canvas that shielded His art

and revealed to me His masterpiece.

I was blinded by beauty, in awe of it truly,

and humbly, I fell to His feet.

 

You see His light that shined, through my restructured heart,

shone with glory and refracted abound.

It danced to the ceiling, sparkled with feeling,

and touched all that rested around.

 

Before my adversity, before all the trials,

I was a pane of unweathered glass.

His light could shine through me, but though there was beauty,

it had no opportunity to refract.

 

In breaking me down and building me up,

He had very clever intent.

For now when His light shone with delight,

it was scattered, refracted, and bent.

 

It could reach every corner and touch every heart

that came within its new bounds.

I could now shine His light, with power and might,

to all who yearned to be found.

 

I was humbled in thought that He cared for my heart

with such personal, attentive grace.

It was then that I learned, it was simply my turn,

and that others filled infinite space.

 

You see He works on us all, every single heart,

for we are all His children anew.

He loves us so deeply, and spends time with us neatly,

rebuilding even YOU.

 

I fancy our hearts as mosaics,

mosaics constructed by God.

Intricately made, passionately displayed

Beautifully humble, yet odd.

My Story (part 2)

“…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more…” Luke 12:48

With the control placed back in God’s hands, I entered college a semester early and began to adjust to a very new life.  Eager to explore all that my new home had to offer, I was consumed by the excitement and intensity of change.  I stumbled, as many young freshmen do, in finding my identity and learning the ins and outs of my new routine, but I eventually found my footing and focused on my passion–soccer.

That first spring was a time of adjustment and discipline.  Isaiah 40:29 says that “He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of he who has no might.” And that was most certainly what our King did.  He invigorated my spirit and inspired my heart. By giving Him control, I was able to not only grow in my faith, but physically as well, in a healthy manner.  I worked, relentlessly, taking no shortcuts in my development and, come fall, I was entirely prepared to step onto the field and help lead my team to greatness.

There were many astounding events that defined my first fall season as a Tiger–many overwhelming blessings God placed in my lap almost as to say, “Here. I am rewarding you for pursuing My truth. In turn, remember where to give the glory.” Little did I know, he was building me a very large platform from which to proclaim His name.  A platform that was almost overwhelming.  You see, in my second true game as a collegiate goalkeeper, I lined up to take a routine free-kick right outside of my box, and ending up scoring a goal! A 90 yard goal that took one bounce over the other goalkeepers head and made its way into the back of the net! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3E-dgyo_jw) A feat never achieved before. A feat I most certainly could not have accomplished with my own power and strength.  A feat that most clearly was designed by our King.  Next thing I knew, the goal was splashed across the television, magazines, and the internet.  Appearing as a #3 play on SportsCenter Top10 plays (an extreme rarity for women’s college soccer), strewn across the pages of Sports Illustrated, and linked onto YouTube, Break.com and countless other sites,  the energy of that play took on a life of its own. LSU Soccer was put on the map in a matter of moments, and the recognition and attention seemed to come to our team effortlessly.  However, the thing I was most proud of was something that nobody else saw that day….

I remembered, as I lined up to take that kick, looking up into the stands and seeing my daddy sitting right beneath the press box.  Now before I tell you of my most vivid memory from that evening, there are some things you should understand about my father. There are few other men as proud of their families as my daddy was of his.  Few other men that have sacrificed more to see their children succeed, and few others that have supported their children’s endeavors more passionately. My dad was my biggest fan, my cheerleader, my coach, my jury, my confidant, my disciplinarian, and everything in between.  He was a stoic man, a thoughtful man. A child at heart and an observer. A comedian with the most magnificent smile, but a private man often drowned in his inner-dialogue and thoughts. Though our relationship had experienced its share of strains and tensions (primarily due to the fact that were both as stubborn as a couple of mules), he loved passionately. And no matter where I traveled to play, my daddy was always in the stands.

But to digress, I saw my daddy beneath the press box as I lined up to take that kick. After watching the ball bounce into the net, the crowd erupted. The team came sprinting towards me, the fans shook the stadium with cheers and applause, and the announcer’s voice boomed over the loud-speaker.  However, in the midst of that explosion, I could only hear one voice in the stands.  A voice yelling with the echoes of a pride that is born so deep within our hearts, it cannot be imitated–only felt.  A pride and excitement so organic, so true, that you feel it’s vibrations in the fibers of your being.  My dad was yelling so loudly, I thought he was going to explode.  Looking up, I saw a smile strung wider than any I have ever seen before (I swear his teeth were touching his ears).  I saw a joy beaming so fantastically from him, he took on a glow. And as the game continued and the play progressed, that man was still screaming. Still cheering so loudly, I doubt the men in the press box could even hear themselves think.  Ten minutes later…still cheering. Oozing with a passion that seemed to be waiting to overflow.  A passion that a man, so disciplined in his demeanor, could not control.  A passion, I would later learn, I was fortunate to witness. For that is the moment of which I was most proud.

Throughout the rest of that season, my daddy was always there.  A relationship blossomed between he and I that was so beautiful and pure, I am humbled to have been a part of it.  The season was record-breaking–quite literally.  In my pursuit of the King, I broke every record ever set by a goalkeeper at LSU and began to contend for conference prestige.  I helped lead my team to new heights and was able to experience, firsthand, the power that athletics play in so many people’s lives.  There is no doubt in my mind that God constructed my platform for a much bigger purpose than I could even understand at that time.  A purpose I am fulfilling now, 3 years later.  There is no doubt in my mind that God fostered the improvement in my and my father’s relationship when he did for a very specific reason, as well.

At the end of my fall semester, I was on top of the world. Named All-American, Louisiana Freshman of the Year, Freshman All-SEC…I was invincible.  In a passionate pursuit of Christ, I felt I had the world figured out.

That was until I returned to Georgia for Christmas break and, on January 2, 2009, my daddy didn’t come home…