Our pastor said yesterday that we're like clay pots that get broken before being put back together in order to be useable. Being a soapmaker and not a potter, I can't help but think in terms of soap, so instead I think that we get rebatched.
First, my reason for not completely agreeing with the broken pot analogy... Broken pots can be mended and glued back together. However, while they're perfectly functional, they still have these vulnerable parts where the cracks are. Glue's not quite as hard as clay that's been kiln-fired, leaving the pot vulnerable to leaks.
When I make soap - or when anyone makes homemade soap, for that matter - there's always the risk that something will go wrong. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen, and a few weeks ago, it happened to me for the first time. I'd made some CPHP soap in cucumber aloe and was attempting to mould it in a plastic tray of guest-sized soaps. Done perfectly, I'd have ended up with 15 1.25-ounce bars of soap that smelled fresh and clean but that also had the nourishing properties of the aloe vera juice I'd put into it. They didn't turn out perfect. The soap itself was fine. It smelled good, the lather was fabulous when I cleaned out the crock pot and it was perfectly functional. However, it wouldn't come out of the mould. I tried. My husband tried. We even let it sit for a few days, thinking it'd shrink up some with its cure and it'd pop right out, but to no avail. The bars ended up rough and ugly. So, I decided, since this was, after all, an experimental batch, to further experiment and rebatch them.
If you're a bar of soap, rebatching is HARD. First, I grated the soap with our cheese grater (sacrificing a fingernail and a bit of a knuckle in the process). Then I put it in a bowl with a bit of warm water and milk for a few hours to let it draw some of the moisture back into it. So, at this point, the soap's been grated or broken and is being rehydrated. Then I stuck it in the oven for a couple of hours so it'd melt. Finally, on a whim, I added a bit of ultramarine green to it for a dash of color. The soap got "broken," changed and heated up before it went back into the mould for several hours in the hopes it'd be pretty and functional at the end.
God does the same thing to us. When we've screwed up, God breaks us, adds things to our lives and makes things pretty hot around us, all to make us into something better. Even when we haven't messed up, even when we're doing all that we should and are walking closely with Him, God still might "rebatch" us to make us into something even better. It's through our own trials, whether we bring them on ourselves or not, that make us better able to serve and help those around us.
The soap did turn out pretty in the end. The top is rough because the soap was thick - as it should be - when I put it in there. However, the soap still smells wonderful and is a lovely green. I'm thinking about sending it to a business a friend owns called The Purple Box to go out to her customers in sample packs.
The History Lesson
4 weeks ago