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Spiritual Lessons From The Pottery Wheel

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Spiritual lessons are all around use, everyday if we take the chance to look. Here are some spiritual lessons from the pottery wheel.

A few years ago I learned some interesting lessons from related to the pottery wheel from a dear, sweet lady named Sharla at a women’s retreat.

I stumbled across my journal from that time and today I am sharing some lessons from the pottery wheel.

You may have noticed that I love it when spiritual truths are illustrated in everyday life. This was such a cool experience.

Pottery Making

Lessons From The Pottery Wheel

But now, Lord, You are our Father;

We are the clay, and You our potter,

And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

The Process

A potter’s first thought must be to the type of pottery vessel being made. A plate serves a much different purpose than a mug. A sugar bowl is different from a plate.

On the contrary, who are you, you foolish person, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  Or does the potter not have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one object for honorable use, and another for common use?

Romans 9:20-21

Sometimes it is easy to wonder why some are gifted with certain things that we would like to be gifted with.

As a body, the church needs members that preform different functions.

There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:6-7

For the body is not one part, but many.  If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body.  And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18

(You could really just take a minute to read the whole chapter!)

The Clay

The potter must choose clay with the end product in mind. It is not just about grabbing a handful of dirt. Each clay serves a different purpose. It affects the resulting vessel.

“When God is doing this, he doesn’t just go grab a handful of dirt in our lives. He knew us in our mother’s womb and He created what our flesh was going to be.

What our personality was going to be. Whether we were going to be tall or not so very tall. What our inclinations were going to be physically. What our mental capacity was. What our talents were going to be.

All of those things were God’s beginning choices that He made. And every one of those choices affects the outcome, whether you know it or not, all of those things, those choices that He began with in your creation affect what your end product will be free will or not.

Who you are and how you’re made affects the truth decisions that you’re going to make so that’s the first point at which you see God working in your life. He knew what kind of vessel He was going to make for you.”

~Sharla Cotton

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Some clays are tough, some are fine, some are in between. Some are fired at a higher temperature than others that would crack under the strain of the heat. The type of pottery project that is being made has to be considered when choosing clay.

We each have unique gifts and personalities and talents. God has these in mind when he was making you.

The Softening the Clay

Once the clay is chosen, it has to be kneaded, or wedged. This makes the clay more pliable and removes air pockets.

Wedging is a physical task that entails repeatedly banging your lump of clay onto a table in the effort to knock out as much air as possible.

Pottery WHeels, How Stuff Works

If the air pockets are not removed, a piece can collapse or crack in the kiln.

An air pocket can also keep a piece from being centered properly on the wheel. One side will be ever so slightly lighter, and throw off the whole centering process.

Sometimes in life, we are allowed to go through hard things to help form us into the vessel God destined for us to be before were born.

Working it also makes sure that the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the clay.


 If you don’t center it, everything is catty wampus, everything you’ll be working on it and it will suddenly give and do all kinds of weird stuff. That’s because it’s not centered. 

Because we have to be centered and what has to be at our center God does or it won’t work you can’t do it. So and not only do you have to be centered, but the process you go through to Center is amazing.  At any point if you get uncentered you’re going to lose it, right?

~Sharla Cotton

The clay must also be centered, just as Christ must be the center of our lives.

If a lump of clay is not centered, it can literally be thrown off the wheel.

If a piece is off centered it it is like the foundation of a house being off center. Walls will be uneven, and as you apply pressure the whole vessel can collapse.

Between a Rock And a Hard Spot

One hand is held as an anchored, immovable wall, the other is used on the center of the vessel as a ‘hammer’. The wheel spins, and the clay is shaped by the potters hands applying unmoving pressure. The channel made by the potters hands helps pull the piece up to the desired height and shape it just so.

So when God is take teaching us to be centered it’s between a rock and a hard spot hand of God against our will and I’m not sure you know, I’m not sure what exactly the spiritual parallels are. But you get the point the centering is not always easy.

It’s not always a fun thing to be happening in your life when God is saying you’re off over here. And when I put the gas on you’re going to sling clay all over the entire front row, you’ve got to get centered so that

And the community of God is such a tool, in that for us church is where we get our centering because where else in this world do you hear the kind of messages that we here at church?

Where do you get anybody else any other voice in your ear saying don’t do it. That way do it this way don’t do what the world says, do what God says.

Sharla Cotton

From that centered place out in the world. You don’t get it. So the church is a huge tool for that right?

God often uses the channels of the church and the Word to help pull us up to where we need to be.

Patience and Pressure

 This is the point at which you’re actually started. You decided what you’re going to make. What your vessel is going to be and now you’re going to start forming it.

The first thing you have to do is get it upright and that is the biggest step for any potter to make is to learn to pull.

And once again, this is all pressure and you wonder why God doesn’t just give us a world that’s peachy keen and everything is absolutely fine. It’s because we’d stay these little squiggly pancake things.

Looking on underneath and I’m pulling up every stroke carefully. 

He has to pull on us several times before He gets us where He wants us to be. Then firm up our edges a little bit. 

Sharla Cotton

A potter must have patience when applying pressure. Too much pressure in one spot and your pot flops.

You don’t want to take out too much, because if you make me any really thin place on there, or you go too far, if you are stretched too far in a spiritual sense.

You’ll flop. You’ll fail.

That’s the number one problem I have when I’m pulling I put too much pressure in one spot you get a thin space and it all just goes through the middle.

But when God is working on you, He knows just the right amount of pressure to put on us and He won’t test you beyond what you’re able.

Sharla Cotton

No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Trimming the Pottery

How you tell if you’re doing a good job or not, is you take cutter thing and you go. And you look inside just like God does to us with His word the way you know, what is happening in your life is through the word because it cuts through the nonsense and is it discerner of your thoughts and your intentions and with what you are the Potter you can tell what you’ve done. It’s any good or not. You get it trimmed and you cut away all the excess.

Sharla Cotton

For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Trimming is the fine-tuning and removing of excess.

A potter doesn’t have to do the pretty touches. God does not have to add the beautiful and extra things to us and our lives that He so often does.

Bisque Fire

It is glass. It’s gone through a fire. This clay goes from dirt to glass. 

And that is so much like our spiritual growth, because God through his salvation, you know, gave us a spirit. 

And, through the fire, we became something completely different. He gave us a new nature and that’s what bisque is.

Sharla Cotton

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Turning dirt to glass by the application of fire. Still semi fragile, not as strong as after the final fire. It is not the finished product, it will be further refined, it is bisque.

Sanding The Pottery

You sand it down a little bit, take off some more rough spots.

Sharla Cotton

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:30

Glazing The Pottery

We put on the new self.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let’s behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and debauchery, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Romans 13:12-14

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4:20-24

Second Firing

Then you start doing glazing because to go from that (bisque) to this (finished piece) requires one more baptism, you know on the Mount of transfiguration. They saw Christ in his new glorious body that according to scripture. We will all have one day and the master Potter is doing that. He is taking us from clay. 

Glorious body fit for heaven and if children then heirs Heirs of God and Joint heirs with Christ, if it’s so be that we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together when we’re in heaven we get this whole new body (Romans 8:17). It’s not clay, it’s not bisque. It’s gone through another transformation and that’s coming for us as well.

Sharla Cotton

No Clay Is Wasted in Pottery

The plate is not having free will. And we do.

So, God is creating this vessel that He wants but sometimes it doesn’t work. Right? Because we’re fighting Him.

The way that clay jumped off my thing, that can be us because we jump off the potter’s wheel. He goes to put us in the firing and we fight and we say “No I don’t want to do that”.

So, what do you do, if at some point in your life you say, you know, “I think I missed it, what God wanted me to do”?

The neat thing about pottery is no Clay is ever wasted.

If I had failed that pot that I made, this bowl that I just made I would let it dry. I would add water and I start over again and that’s what God does with us the first verses that I read talk about how he crushed it down and started over and did it again.

Tricky here because you can’t subvert God’s will, but sometimes He makes ends up making you a little bit different vessel than maybe He had intended for you to be because you fought with Him.

Sharla Cotton

Some Other Notes on Pottery

You’re under some pressure all of these things are happening in your life feel like you’re happy stuff cut away. You feel like you’ve been through the fire. But if you realize that you do have a loving God who is the Potter and who’s forming you for a purpose that he determined for you were before you were born. If you can look at it that way it’s easier to say it’s easier you can rejoice in it and say the master Potter is working on something. And not only that when you flip it and you can say I see where that’s happening, you know, I know what’s going on. It makes all the difference in the world.

Sharla Cotton

Two pieces have to dry and go through the fire to fit together (like a jar and lid) in the end. This is a good illustration of not being unequally yoked. To fit together well we must have gone through the bisque together, be it in friendship or marriage.

No two piece of hand thrown pottery are exactly the same, just as no two people are the same.

You can check out Mrs Sharla’s Tiny House Pottery on Instagram. You can watch Mrs Sharla’s Lesson on Video here.

How you ever played around with pottery? Are there other every day things that have illustrated spiritual truths for you?

4 thoughts on “Spiritual Lessons From The Pottery Wheel

    1. It was so cool to learn about the way you make stuff on the pottery wheel and how it relates to our walk with the Lord. Thanks for visiting!

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