A husband and wife, who loved to shop in antique stores, planned one very special trip to England to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  They both liked antiques and pottery...especially tea cups. 

While browsing in a small shop one day, they noticed an exceptionally beautiful tea cup.  They asked, "May we see that?  We've never seen a cup quite so beautiful." 

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the tea cup spoke, "You don't understand."  It then explained, "I have not always been a tea cup.  There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay.  My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over, and I yelled out, 'Don't do that.  I don't like it!  Let me alone,' but he only smiled, and gently said, 'Not yet!!' 

"Then...WHAM!  I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around.  'Stop it!  I'm getting so dizzy!  I'm going to be sick!'  I screamed.  But the master only nodded and quietly said, 'Not yet.'  He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then...then he put me in the oven.  I never felt such heat.  I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. 'Help!  Get me out of here!'  I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, 'Not yet.' 

"When I thought I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened.  He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool.  Oh, that felt so good!*  Ah, this is much better,* I thought. 

"But, after I cooled, he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over.  The fumes were horrible.  I thought I would gag.  'Oh, please, stop it, stop it!!'  I cried.  He only shook his head and said, 'Not yet!' 

"Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven.  Only it was not like the first one.  This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I screamed.  I cried.  I was convinced I would never make it.  I was ready to give up.  Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited...and waited...wondering, *What's he going to do to me next?!* 

"An hour later he handed me a mirror and said, 'Look at yourself.' And I did. 

"I said, 'That's not me.  That couldn't be me.  It's beautiful.  I'm beautiful!'" 

"Quietly he spoke:  'I want you to remember back to the beginning,' he said.  'I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted but, had I just left you alone, you'd have dried up.  I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel but, if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.  I know it hurt, and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven but, if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked.  I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over but, if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened.  You would not have had any color in your life.  If I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for long because the hardness would not have held.  Now you are a finished product.  Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'" 

The moral of this story is this:  God knows what He is doing with each of us.  He is the Potter, and we are His clay.  He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just enough pressures - of just the right kinds - so that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill HIS good, pleasing, and perfect will.  So...when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when life seems to "stink", try this.....brew a cup of your favorite tea in your prettiest tea cup, sit down, and think of this story. 
Then have a talk with the Potter.

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