Putty in the hands of a playful God
Ah, the smell of Play-Doh. It hits you double-barreled in both nostrils. Memories come flooding back. I roll and shape. I press and I pull. I am making…nothing. Just enjoying working the Doh.
Now I’ve moved up to putty, therapy puddy, to be exact. The kind they give you “for free” when you are rehabbing an ailing digit. But I’ve graduated from rehab; now I am just playing. Just like when I was a kid, except I stop every now and then to admire my “work.” In its course it looks like:
- an alligator
- a snake
- an elephant
- a dragon
- a dragon eating his tail
- a dragon ashamed of himself
- an embryo
- a heart
- a face, very old and wrinkled
- an eagle’s head or
- maybe a turtle
I like the turtle. I set him in his round, plastic therapy putty home. And, as always happens with puddy, he melts slowly into the shape of the container. That never happened with play-Doh. It got hard and crusty, probably because I left off the cover.
As it melts, my turtle is looking suspiciously like a snail. Ah well. Later I will shape it again. Into something completely new. My hands will know what to do. What it’s meant to be I will leave completely up to them and to my imagination.
Do you suppose God is trying to tell me something?
Just shape. Just mold. Just model. But every now and then, take a look at what we are doing together in your hands.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. ~ Jeremiah 18:1-6
The clay I am in the master’s hands is something new each day. I don’t know what it will be, but He does.
Go ahead, mix the Play-Doh
Doesn’t Play-Doh feel great?!
I had forgotten until I got out some containers for my Wednesday “Pal’s.” They are 4th graders at a local elementary school that have been “assigned” to me as part of a mentoring program. I am pretty sure they were assigned to mentor me rather than the other way around, but anyway… We had bright blue, green, purple and orange play-doh so they decided to make a nature scene. Pond surrounded by trees. What to do with the orange? Fish in the pond of course.
Our play time is always short, though, so we had barely completed our creation when it was time to clean up. The tree tops were easy to separate from their trunks, but it’s darn difficult to get those orange fish out of the blue pond to put each color neatly back into its container. One must try, though, so colors are pristine for the next creation.
We fished them out best we could, but as we rolled up the pond I could still see a seam of orange where the fish had been. A narrow streak down the center of the blue. Don’t worry. I resisted the urge to pick out every orange particle. But this morning when I read Oswald Chambers I thought about that doh and that seam:
God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must “work out” our “own salvation” which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12).
That orange seam was like what God has worked in me. Clearly distinct from the rest of who I am.
When we pull out that blue Play-Doh again, we’ll mash and twist and shape it into something new. The orange will be worked into the blue. It won’t take long before we don’t see it at all. Oh, it may have imperceptibly changed the color of that blue doh, but no one will know but me. It will be worked in.
I don’t think Paul had play-doh in mind when he wrote his letter to the Philippians, but perhaps this is what he meant. Working out our salvation is really about working in the salvation of God. That streak of color, mashed and twisted, is just the shade we need to shapes our lives into the creation He has in mind.
Who would have thought that God would use fish in a lake and some children to show me that?