Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Grateful Heart: The Beginning of Stories

By the time most of you read this, I'll be on the road, heading to our family Thanksgiving festivities. The days ahead are a great treasure for us. We rarely have this much time together under the same roof, and I'm looking forward to it. 

Because I'll be driving when I'm usually writing, I've posted the first little story I ever wrote, the story that gave me the first hint I might be a writer. Of all the moments that touched my heart, of all the stories I've heard in my head, this is the one for which I'm most grateful because of what it began in me. I love this story. I hope you do, too.

Pounding for Perfection

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  
Hebrews 12:11 

The potter explained to us that, before the clay could be placed on the wheel, it needed to be pounded a bit to make it round and symmetrical.  “You can’t skip that pounding at the first,” he warned.  He knew our temptation would be to hurry straight to the wheel.  “It won’t work if the clay’s not right.”  

He told us that the clay had to be even all the way around for the next step in the process to work correctly.  “Keep pounding,” he said.  He would not let us quit until it was perfect.

Once the clay was smooth, he showed us how to center it on the base.  It took quite a bit of pressure to get the clay properly centered.  He demonstrated how to put extra pressure on the areas that were not right.  “Sometimes it takes a lot of pressure to get this centered.  Now, you try,” he said.  “If you have it right, it won’t slip off; it will get better centered.”  

I pushed down hard.  At first, it looked as if I had done it correctly.  “Hooray!” I thought.  “I’m doing it!”  Just as I put my finger in the center of the clay and began to pull up, however, it was obvious that my design was going to be warped.  I had put too much pressure on the inside.  

My next try was no better.  This time, I let up on the pressure too quickly, and the edges flopped.  “Ease up gradually,” he suggested.  

I’ve found life to be a lot like the clay.  It takes some “pounding” (also called discipline) to get our rough places out, but those hard times help us focus on what really matters.  It’s terrible to endure, but the finished product makes it worth it in the end.    

On the other hand, pressure is a funny thing.  A little makes us work harder, fine tunes us, makes us better.  Too much pressure, though, can overwhelm us and make us warped, just like my first pot.  When that pressure is self-imposed, it is especially destructive.

Have you experienced God’s discipline in your life recently?  The hard times may be specially designed to prepare you for the next step in the journey.  

Are you overwhelmed with the pressure you feel, not only from outside sources but also from within?  Is the pressure making you warped?  Unbalanced?  Are you “flopping” around the edges?  Perhaps you need to ease up on yourself a little.  Maybe you need to reassess the pressures you have allowed into your life.  What can you remove?  

If the pressure is getting you “off center”, it is time for some changes.  Get your life centered on Christ and begin to do things His way.  Not only are you less likely to have a “warped” life, you are much more likely to enjoy the journey. 

You can read more stories from my time in pottery class in The Clay Papers, available as an e-book on Amazon. Here's the link

Don't forget to pray for those who have lost so much recently as a result of terrorist attacks - Paris, Lebanon, Syria, Nigeria. Our world is filled with pain and sorrow. Pray that they will find the comfort only the Prince of Peace can give.
photo courtesy freeimages.com

#JesusChrist #PotteryLessons #Toomuchpressure #Unbalanced