When I was just a kid, our neighbors had a clay court. Gardiner Mulloy was on the professional tour and while a great player, he never did break out on top. We watched as he worked out every day. If we would mark the lines and brush the clay, we were allowed to play some each week. There’s nothing like tennis on clay.
The 2007 French Open is on this week. The stadium in Paris seats 15,000 and just to view this spectacular scene is breath taking. The court reflects the beauty and power of the red clay.Tonight will be the finals in the title game between Tennessee and Arizona. Fast pitch softball is an exciting game for college women. The infield on all softball diamonds is red clay.
Nearly 60 years ago I played second base in the fast pitch industrial league of Waycross, Georgia. It was big stuff and drew the crowds. Sliding into home base, my cleats caught on the corner of the plate that had been puckered up with clay, and while we won the game but I nearly lost my foot.The tear was so extensive that after three days of lying on my back in bed, I could not stand the pain of hanging my foot off the side. An old black lady we knew came by looked at my ankle and said, “Fix this boy a hot poultice. Make it out of red clay and vinegar and smear it generously on as you would plaster. Bind it up with a clean sheet rag and leave it for 24 hours. Sounded silly, but I was desperate. Bingo! The next day when the cloth was removed, the clay fell away like plaster and revealed an ankle that no longer was swollen and red. It had turned solid black! A week later I was back on my feet ready for the next game. The beauty and mysterious power of red clay.
All my life I have always been a public speaker. I have always used visual aids. Why not illustrate to the eye what you are saying to the ears. Three long shelves housed my collection and a huge special made footlocker carried them from place to place for speaking engagements. Of all the props, one was my favorite. It was a can of red plastic clay. You need to get your own personal can to begin to really see and understand the beauty and power of the clay. Kids often snickered or giggled when I reached for the clay wondering how I would use it. To put it in your hand and begin to squeeze it is an experience. Notice how pliable and flexible it is. It yields to the “potter” who holds it and molds it. It does not resist but to the contrary becomes what the master would make of it.
We sing the song in religious services that speaks of it. Adelaide Pollard penned the words in 1902.
“Have thine own way Lord, have thine own way,
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me, after thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still”
To illustrate I would say to my audience while holding the clay, “I’m ready Lord, I’m ready”. Then I would take both fists and squeeze the clay with all my might. Opening my hand slowly and reverently, I would hold up the sculpted clay and say, “The image of Christ will come out in your life” when you yield your life to the Potter’s power. After not using a can of clay for a number of years, it became hardened, almost like stone. I had to replace it with fresh plastic clay. The contrast became vivid when I would take the hardened clay and hit a solid surface with it. “Clack, clack, clack, and yet the solid mass stayed the same. How do you teach something that does not move?
To the believer the apostle Paul wrote, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “why did you make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use” (Romans 9:20-21 – NIV).
When Job complained about God’s judgment and wished he could plead his case before him, “God appeared to him out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man and I will question you and you shall answer me” (Job 38 – NIV).
When scientists of many nations were gathered together for a conclave, a believer in their midst gave each of them a copy of the 23 questions that God asked Job. After a full discussion, only three and a portion of the fourth could be answered, using the combined wits of all the scientists in that symposium. Job was an ancient sage in
When the theory was tossed around that “God is dead” Marshall Keeble, an old black preacher friend of mine said, “He can’t be dead, I talked to him today and he said, he wasn’t even feeling bad.” (Praise the Lord!)