My favorite activity in Mexico, aside from eating and drinking, was painting pottery. I did this on our honeymoon on the Mayan Rivera, so I’d hoped to have a chance to paint some useless knick knacks while on this trip.
The first full day we were at the resort, I visited the pottery painting area, where I selected an object among misshapen turtles, overly large coffee mugs, flowery containers, Spiderman and Shrek figurines, and an assortment of vases. I decided to go with a vase, thinking it seemed the most practical (although I wonder if it will hold water).
After paying the whopping sum of $100 in pesos (which translates to less than $10 US, but it always sounds frightening that way), the manager brought me my paints, thoughtfully arranged in Corona bottle caps. Over the course of 3 hours, I set to work decorating my pottery.
I watched small children pick their animated character figurines and slap two colors of paint on them, losing interest in about 10 minutes.
One adult stopped by to watch my progress. When she saw me painstakingly mixing my colors, she approached me and said, “You know, you don’t need to be so picky. They’re going to fix it all when you’re done. You won’t even recognize it when you get it back. It will look great.”
Frankly, I was a bit miffed. The magical Mexican pottery fairies were going to whisk away my creation overnight and repaint it to perfection. I was spending a lot of time making it my own, and they were going to change it. This bothered me a bit.
Once I finished my vase, I told the manager that it was done, and I didn’t want it changed. It was perfect, just the way it was. Apparently, he didn’t agree. He pointed to the center of the petals, and to other locations around the vase and said, “Desea una línea aquí?” (Do you want a line here?”)
I kept saying, “No. The vase is fine. Leave it alone.”
The next day, my vase was ready.
It was beautiful, glazed and shining in the tropical sunlight. Opon closer inspection, I noticed that my requests weren’t followed. The neck had a new decoration, and everything was thickly outlined in black.
But, here’s my problem. It looked better. The woman was right.
I have a lot in common with my little ceramic vase.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 ESV).
We are the clay pots. God is the master potter, and it’s hard to trust that he knows what he’s doing, forming us. He’s the talented artist, and although we might work hard to make ourselves the best we can, he’s the one who really knows how to make us truly beautiful.
Like with my pottery, I often get things backwards. I pig headedly insist that I know what’s best for me. I don’t trust Jesus to take care of this earthen vessel, this jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7), that’s his to begin with.
“You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
‘He did not make me’;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
‘He has no understanding’?” (Isaiah 29:16 ESV)
Oh Lord, may I trust the one who formed me to make me beautiful in His sight.