Friday, January 22, 2016

Flashback Friday: Getting Centered

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…”   Hebrews 12:2

“Getting the clay centered is the most important step,” he cautioned.  “It determines everything else that happens to the clay.  Don’t try to form anything until you have it centered.”  

I, of course, found it hard to wait until the clay was set just right.  

Repeatedly, the potter wrapped his big hands around mine and centered the clay.  He wanted me to feel the difference in centered and not-centered clay.  

Repeatedly, I thought the lump was ready when it wasn’t. Over and over, I would call to the potter.  

“Check it now,” I’d say.  “I think I have it.”  

Every time, he’d just smile as he looked at the clay and say, “Not yet.  You’re close, but not quite there.  Keep trying.”  

His experienced eye could see the wobble without even touching the clay.

I learned quite a bit about what happens when the clay is not centered, because I found it so hard to slow down and wait until I had it right.  

It is tough, if not impossible, to make a bowl when the clay is off-center, and it is extremely frustrating.  Most of the time, my efforts just became “wibbly-wobbly” and collapsed into a little lump before I was through.  

Occasionally, the entire lump of clay flew right off the wheel, hitting the student at the next station.  She was gracious about the first few slimy lumps of clay that landed on her arm or in her lap, but it didn’t take long for her to be almost as frustrated with my efforts as I was.  

“Don’t you feel the difference?” the potter asked as he used my hands to center the clay once more.  

Of course, I felt the difference!  I simply was not willing to wait, so I struggled with the clay instead.  

“When the clay is centered and the wheel speed is right, all you will need is a light, firm touch to make what you want,” he promised.

Having a life that is properly centered is sometimes difficult, too, isn’t it?  There is a tendency to want our dreams fulfilled NOW.  It’s as hard to wait for what we want in life as it was for me to wait until the clay was centered.  

Teenagers find it hard to wait until marriage for sexual fulfillment, hard to wait until adulthood for independence.  Young couples find it hard to wait to have the home and furnishings they’ve dreamed about.  Even middle-aged adults find it hard to wait for the level of financial security they desire.  

Unwillingness to wait often causes us to rush ahead, to take risks, to make choices that are unwise.

Are you struggling with waiting?  

Are you focusing on what you want rather than the things that truly matter in life?  

Slow down and examine your priorities, as well as your methods for obtaining them.  Begin to focus on Jesus Christ and all those “things” will look less important. Before long, you will find that everything else in life will begin to come together.  

As the potter said, getting centered really IS the most important step in determining the quality of what you make – with clay and with life.