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.

on August 9 | in Poetry | by | with 14 Comments

  • Sonya

    I hope it’s ok if I link this. It touched me deeply. Beautifully descriptive of our lives as believers.

  • http://www.calogerolaw.com Michael G. Calogero

    Mo,
    I’m an LSU grad. (BS 1985) – Go Tigers! – and a Loyola (N.O.) Law grad. (JD ’93), but my most important credential is my identity as a child of God, through Jesus. Thanks for your dedication, commitment and obedience to God.
    - Michael (clay in the Potter’s hands)

  • https://twitter.com/JessHBurke Jessica Burke

    Mo,
    I just wanted to drop in and leave you a note of encouragement! As I’ve been keeping up with your blog and twitter, your faith and commitment to our God has touched me in a way you can’t imagine. I’ve played about every sport under the sun and I’ve identified since a very early age as an athlete. Since the “Tebow boom” I’ve been waiting on a “female version” to hit pop culture, so I was absolutely thrilled when you hit the scene! For young female athletes to have such a positive and strong woman as a role model is an incredibly powerful thing – never understimate the impact you are creating right now. I know what you’re doing is not easy, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but I’m so thankful that you are running the race. I keep you and your ministry in prayer, and will continue to do so throughout tryouts and beyond; this is just the beginning! Keep up the hard work and God bless!
    - Jessica

  • http://jesshburke.wordpress.com jesshburke

    Mo,
    Just felt impelled to leave you a note of encouragement! As I keep up with your blog and twitter, your faith has really impacted me. I’ve played about every sport under the sun and have identified as an athlete since a very early age, so I was very excited to come across your story. I’ve been bemoaning our culture’s lack of a “female Tim Tebow” for awhile and I feel you are filling that void and beyond! For young female athletes to have such a strong role model is incredibly powerful – never undervalue what you are doing for them. I know you are being physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally taxed, so I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you’re running the race! I will keep you and your ministry covered in prayer throughout tryouts and beyond – keep up the hard work and never take your eyes off the Prize! God bless and Geaux Mo!
    - Jessica Burke

  • Andy M

    Mo,

    As a former collegiate kicker, college football fan and soccer fanatic…. I have no idea how your story has escaped up to now especially since I live in Atlanta.

    Just wanted to say that from what I have now seen and read… you are an amazing person an I wish all the best in your kicking tryouts Monday and Tuesday.

    No matter what happens, it is clear that you will be a winner in life not just for yourself but anyone that comes into daily contact with you.

    Good Luck,
    Andy M

  • Zach Henken

    Beautiful words :) This might be strange to admit on here but I didn’t know you existed till yesterday afternoon but I can honestly say I’m thankful that I know now. I’m deeply blessed, and encouraged by your words and you are in my prayers. I hope this is ok, feel free to delete it, but I wrote/finished a poem based on an earlier passage in Isaiah less than four days ago and I hope it can be a blessing and encouragement to you as yours has been to me.

    The lamb has laid down with the lion
    Deep inside of my soul
    And they are led by a child
    To where rivers of righteousness flow
    Yes this is the Truth that I cling to
    Oh and this is the peace that I know
    My heart has been lifted to heaven
    And my spirit is white as the snow

    For my soul has drunk from the fountain
    That deep and unsearchable well
    Saved by the blood of His ransom
    And plucked from the fingers of hell
    Mine were the blows He has taken
    Oh yes mine was each towering swell
    The justice and wrath of the Father
    That only my Savior could quell

    Now I stand at the edge of the ocean
    That perpetual crystal like sea
    And I feel the warmth of forgiveness
    Eternally shining on me
    For I have been clothed in the likeness
    Of everything I should not be
    Yes gone are the chains of a sinner
    And mine are the bonds of the free

    For Christ is my Lamb and my Lion
    My Portion and my soul’s Reward
    The hands that were pierced on the tree
    Hold me with love’s tender cords
    Yes Christ is my peace and my promise
    And His love the hope of the world
    Jesus my God, my Redeemer
    My Savior, my Friend, and my Lord

    Psalm 103:14 “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust”

  • Zach H

    Beautiful words :) This might be strange to say but I didn’t know you existed till yesterday afternoon but I can honestly say I’m thankful that I know now. I’ve been deeply blessed, and encouraged by your words and testimony. You’re in my prayers.
    Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

    • Zach H

      Technical glitch caused my first post to ahh, vanish in my browser so I re-posted a modified post and my apologies for essentially a double post. Be blessed

  • David

    Mo:

    I learned of your story by reading the article on Grantland – I think it amazing and fantastic that they devoted such a long section to your testimony instead of limiting it to a sentence or two about you having a strong faith. A great platform! It was that section that led me to your website and it has been a great encouragement to see your boldness for the gospel and to read what God has done and is doing in your life. I have shared it with my wife as I know she and her girlfriends will find your life inspirational.

    The light of Christ is obvious in your writings and in the way you carry yourself. I pray that he will continue to draw you closer to him (which of course he will). God has used you to encourage me to pray that God would break me free of any remaining chains of fear about proclaiming his goodness to others.

    God Bless,
    David

    Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

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  • http://alexandersoul.wordpress.com alexandersoul

    A beautiful picture of a child learning to trust the Father. I love the metaphor you drew from Scripture, and your message really comes through it. Thank you, truly, for sharing.

  • http://Facebook.com/TheKatKelley Kat Kelley

    I cannot tell you how much I needed this right now…I’m about to go into surgery number 4 for my whacked out back. Supposedly this will fix it…no…this is going to fix it. God is going to use the surgeons hands to heal me. Anyways. Thank you. I am going on five years now and I needed this! :) tank ya sha! :)

  • Fr. Ed Vella, CSsR

    Dear Mo, I am a Catholic priest and recently your poem, “Clay in the Potter’s Hands” on four week-long retreats for Religious Women (nuns) at our Retreat Center in Wisconsin. It was part of the final conference on Perseverance and Trust in the Lord. Thank you so much for sharing with us. The Sisters and I have been strengthend. Fr. Ed

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