The story goes of a couple who enjoyed antiques and pottery, and especially teacups, and of a surprise conversation the couple had with one particularly beautiful teacup. The couple was out shopping on their 25th anniversary when they came across the most beautiful teacup they’d ever seen.
They had to have the teacup. They purchased it at great price and displayed it in a prominent case at home where they could enjoy and admire it. But before placing the teacup into the display case, the teacup spoke with them.
“I’m thankful you chose me and took me home,” the teacup began, “but you should know, I wasn’t always what you see before you today.”
“There was a time when I was just so much worthless red clay. But my master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘let me alone!” But he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’
“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the cup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. Stop it! I’m getting dizzy! I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’
“Then he put me in the oven. I’d never felt such heat! I wondered why he wanted to burn me so! I yelled and pounded on the oven door. I could see him through the opening and could read his lips as He shook his head, ‘Not yet.’
“Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘There, that’s better,’ I said. But then he began to brush me and paint me all over. The fumes were horrible. ‘Stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’
“Then he put me BACK in the oven, and this time it was TWICE as hot! I begged. I pleaded. I cried to be let out. All the time I could see him through the opening, nodding his head saying, ‘Not yet.’
When I’d given up all hope, suddenly, the door opened and he took me out and placed me on a shelf.
Soon after he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself.’ And I did. I didn’t recognize myself. ‘That’s not me,” I said! That couldn’t be me. I’ve changed. I see a
beauty and strength I’ve never seen before—a beauty and strength that I know WEREN’T there before!”
My master explained, “I know it hurt you to be rolled up and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up. And I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.
I knew it was hot and miserable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.
I knew the fumes were harsh, as I brushed you and painted you, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened and strengthened.
And, if I hadn’t put you back in the oven the second time, you wouldn’t have survived for very long, because the hardness would not have held.
But now, you are a finished product. You are now what I had in mind for you.'”
We read in Jeremiah 18 of the prophet being instructed to go down to the potter’s house, and to watch and observe as the potter worked the clay in such a way, quote, “as seemed good to the potter to make it.”
And then we read in verse 6, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
May we have the wisdom that this little teacup had in this story—that if we don’t always understand all of the trials and challenges we face in life—that we might at least be able to recognize there IS a potter Who has His good will and purpose for all we go through, and Who’s watchful eye is upon us, every step of the way.