“Sure honey.” I carefully tipped the Nascar wannabe on its side and braced it for impact. A small, pudgy hand slammed the paint brush against the ceramic like a hammer in the hand of a mechanic.
“Daddy will just love it! He can put all kinds of money in it and maybe use it for Disney Land or something” she said mesmerized by her own creativity. “I’ll do the rest myself.”
Before I could stop her, little fingers wrapped around the edges of the freshly painted hood then jumped quickly to the front bumper to lift it for another slather of blue. I smiled as I watched her hands put on just as many coats of paint as the car. I had tried so hard to keep the artwork free of smudges and the child free of graffiti. Failed on both.
“Tada! How you think of that?!” she asked with glowing admiration. Scurrying off to wash the mural from her limbs I looked closely at this soon-to-be keepsake of love. Just as I expected-little fingerprints, scratches, and indentations adorned every door panel, window, and tire. Perfect.
Evidence of the artist’s handling were only hours away from being fired into the clay repeatedly. I grabbed my daughter’s soapy hands and walked her over to sample pieces on display. “Look how shiny the clay becomes honey! Look at how wonderful and rich the colors are once the clay goes through the fire. Next week your bank will be even more beautiful than today.”
The whole ride home became one of those “teachable moments” from the Lord that you long for with your children. Glancing between cherub reflections in the rearview mirror and snarling traffic ahead, scriptures turned into Bible stories turned into Sunday school songs I half hummed because of forgotten lyrics.
Days later, sitting in front of our wood stove at home, the Lord seemed to lean my attention to some circumstances in my past and details began to splash across my thoughts. Words previously spoken were like harsh brush strokes that colored my emotions with dark hues. Different events nicked, scratched and painted my future with blacks bleeding into the white days of hope. Disappointments smudged purposes and discouragement left fingerprints all over what I was laboring so hard to do well.
He calls us precious, honored, and loved. And so the Father hand holds these redeemed lumps of clay and begins a beautifying work of molding, shaping, conforming, then hardening, cleaning, and adorning. We are tossed upside down, sharp tools cut our hearts, and unwanted events color our days. Then the fires of adversity where we don’t believe we will make it.
But in the Father’s hand, only those things that can endure fire are put through the fire. And when in the fire you don’t stay there but go through for a set time. And while the flames heat envelops us and lick our wounds, blankets our colors, we come out on the other side as a display piece for the Father’s glory. “Then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Matthew 13:43.
And if onlookers gaze close enough, they will see that each piece of our Father’s clay has His loving fingerprints all over it. Forever fired into His artwork which continually reflects the brilliance and glory of a good and loving Potter.