Editor’s note: Honor your pastor this October! It’s Pastor Appreciation Month and CTA is providing this FREE Shaped to Serve devotion for your ministry. Consider the trials your pastor may be facing throughout the year and gather your church family to brainstorm ways to help. To download FREE prayers and recognition ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month, visit CTA’s Resource & Idea Center.
After its first firing, the potter’s work of art is called bisque ware. It is still porous enough to absorb glaze, but it is much stronger, much sturdier, than greenware. Even so, it usually looks drab on the workbench. It remains much less beautiful there than in the potter’s imagination.
Despite all appearances, it is on its way to becoming everything the potter hopes. That “becoming,” however, requires a second firing.
After she has applied glaze, the potter places the bisque ware creations into the kiln, positioning them precisely. The potter takes into account the shape of each piece and the quirks of the kiln.
Then the door is closed. Once again, the fire ignites. This time, that fire will be even hotter. This time, the baking process will last even longer.
Despite the availability of programmable kilns today, some potters still prefer the tried-and-true wood-burning version. Such kilns require constant watchfulness. Wood must be added to the fire, little by little and in just the right places throughout the process—a process sometimes lasting up to 30 hours.
Imagine the commitment and care involved. Then, with that in mind, consider this description of our Potter’s watchful concern:
He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper (Psalm 121:3–5 ESV).
The Lord watches. He knows. He cares. He is our keeper. His commitment and concern for each of us individually never wavers. He never grows tired of the work it takes to bring about beauty and goodness in us and for us.
When we face the fires of temptation, of persecution, of trouble, he will not abandon us. We never, ever enter the fire alone. Unlike any earthly artisan, our Potter goes with us—even into the fire.
These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:23–25 ESV).
Our Savior watches. He knows. His presence comforts, reassures, and strengthens us. The fiery challenges we face will bring out the strength and beauty he is working in us. How comforting!
One final word of comfort: The fire will not burn forever. Each hardship has an endpoint. Consider the little word through in this verse:
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:2–3).
True enough, all of us will sooner or later face the fire. But not to stay. We are going through it—through it with our Savior, the One whose love never fails.
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