The Potter and the Vase

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“As clay in the hand of the potter – for all his ways are as he pleases – so men are in the hand of him who made them, to give them as he decides.” (Sirach 33:13)

Can a vase crafted by a accomplished potter say to his maker, “Why did you shape me such? I would have preferred a longer neck. I don’t like the colors you used either. I would have chosen greens and shades of yellow rather than the blues you selected. Perhaps you should remake me.” A guitar can’t tell the guitarist, “I really think the G-chord would have been better there. Oh, by the way, your fret work is really pretty poor.” Can the sculpture criticize the artist? “You should have made my hands bigger, you know. I think I should have been taller as well.”

Sounds pretty silly, right? But isn’t that what we humans do on virtually a daily basis? We had no hand in our making, yet we feel free to complain to our maker that we don’t like what He has made. Our legs are too short, our waist too big. I wish I had auburn hair rather than this dishwater blond. I wish I still had hair. What was God thinking? How dare He not ask us how we wished to be made? Shouldn’t we have had say in how were made? After all, we’re the ones who have to live with what He gave us.

Therein lies the clue most people miss; we are to live with what God gave us Shouldn’t we have had say in how were made? Apparently not. Listen to the Psalmist: “For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalms 138:13). God formed us with a purpose, not by accident.

Our longing to change ourselves physically has resulted in the development of several industries to respond to our desires. If you nose is too big for your liking, they’ll make it smaller. Need fuller lips, just inject some collagen. If we don’t like how we look as we age, we can fix that too. Face lifts, tummy tucks, Botox to eliminate wrinkles all play into our self-absorbed obsession with our appearance. Virtually every part of your body can be altered in today’s world.

I suspect that very few people would consider Mother Teresa to be beautiful in a physical sense, but her sole and her spirit were beautiful beyond compare. The love she shared with the poorest of the poor, those suffering horrible disease and affliction was the beauty that God had given her. She shared that beauty wherever she went. Each of us has the opportunity to share God’s love with others, just as Mother Teresa did. Unfortunately we tend to look at the poorest of the poor as people we avoid rather than welcoming them and caring for them in Christian love. We forget that they are the children of God as well. Without benefit of two thousand years of Christian history and teaching, how would we have looked upon Jesus carrying His cross through the streets of Jerusalem? Would we have seen a savior, or an outcast on His way to death. We must look for Jesus in every face we see, for we are all wonderfully made by God.

The truth is we sometimes forget is that God isn’t interested in a beauty contest. He isn’t looking for physical beauty. Rather, He is interested in spiritual beauty. We fail to seek our purpose in God’s plan, focusing instead on what seems to be important to us and the world. We forget that the world will pass away, but God’s plan for us is eternal.

We must also keep in mind that God does not make mistakes. That can be a very difficult concept to accept and live with. Particularly if we, or someone we love, suffers from a painful or even life-threatening disease. How can someone who has watched their child waste away with cancer still accept that God’s plan is perfect. We can’t know the reason for such an occurrence and it can be extremely hard to simply accept as part of the bigger plan of God. We want to know why. We can see no reason for such suffering. How could such a thing be of God? How many times have you heard someone say, “How could a loving God let this happen?”. We don’t have an answer for that question. We know that God is a loving God but we can’t know why such a thing happened. To simply say that it is God’s plan does little to alleviate the pain and suffering of someone who has lost a loved one or someone who suffering themselves. I am confident that at some point we will understand God’s purpose, but not in this world.

We have no reason to doubt that we are perfectly made and that each occurrence in our life is a part of God’s perfect plan. God’s creation is always perfect, whether it be us, the weather, the earth, the galaxy or the entire universe. But it is perfect to His plan, not ours. The problem begins when we try to add or subtract to God’s plan. We don’t know the entirety of his plan, so who are we to believe we should meddle in it? As God told Job when he questioned God’s plan, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know!” (Job 37:2-5). Job didn’t know and neither do we.

In fact, we insult God if we deny that He made us perfectly. Not, perhaps, to our idea of perfect, but to His. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29). Jesus wanted His disciples, and us, to know of their worth to the Father. The knowledge or our worth to God should relieve our concern over our well-being. After all, God considered us worth the death of his son to provide a path for us to share eternity in His presence.

We can’t place the responsibility for our faults and sins on the way God made us. We can’t use “that’s just the way God made me” as an excuse for sinfulness. God did not make us to commit adultery, fornication, murder, theft, envy or any other sin. We choose what actions we take. It’s called free will. We have the freedom to accept or reject God’s plan. When someone tells you they aren’t responsible for their failings, it’s just the way they were made, they are choosing to reject God. Not only are they rejecting God, they are attempting to hold Him accountable for the evil that they do. God is never the agent of evil. All evil is the result of turning from Him in one way or another.

If we want to question God about how He made us, shouldn’t we owe it to Him to find out the purpose for which for which He made us? We want to say that we are a self-made person. Our place in life is the result of our efforts. We’ve been taught from childhood that independence and self-reliance is a good trait. However, we are all God-made. God designed us as He desired and we are to use the gifts He gave us to the best of our ability. He knows His plans for us and it is our responsibility to make the effort to understand His plan for us. In order for this to happen we must have a relationship with God based on absolute trust. Trust that God wants only what is best for us and will provide it if we allow Him.

He is the potter, we are the vase. We need to accept the fact that some vases are larger and more ornate that others. Perhaps we are a simple vase in order to allow us to ignore ourselves and serve others, as Mother Teresa did. If we are a larger, beautifully accented vase, perhaps our beauty is intended to bring joy to others in some way. It certainly isn’t for us to take pride in and keep to ourselves, for our benefit only. Whether small or large, simple or ornate, we are made by God with a specific purpose in mind. It is our duty to discover that purpose and fulfill it as God desires. This is the path to true happiness.

“I praise you, for I am wondrously made. Wonderful are your works!” (Psalms 139:14)


The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”. Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and other fine publishers.

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About Ed Trego

Ed is a friend at my parish in the Atlanta area. He is actively involved in adult formation and is a certified Advanced Catechist in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Ed is currently studying theology through the Catholic Distance University.


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