Message from the Deans' Office

We Are the Clay

Terry B. Ball, Dean of Religious EducationIsaiah 63:15–64:12 is sometimes regarded as Isaiah’s intercessory prayer. Therein the prophet entreats God for intervention and mercy, acknowledges him as our Father, recognizes his power and glory, confesses Israel’s sins, and pleads for forgiveness and restoration.

As he appealed to God in this stirring supplication, Isaiah humbly testified, “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter” (64:8). This profound and moving imagery speaks to my soul. I believe that when our faith and understanding are sufficient, like Isaiah, we come to recognize God as the supreme craftsman who will, if we are willing to be clay in his hands, mold us into something far greater than we could ever make of ourselves. I believe that as we allow his will to be supreme in the exercising of our agency, our Father in Heaven will guide us and grant us experiences, challenges, and opportunities that will shape us into vessels perfectly designed and suited to accomplish his work and glory. What a marvelous blessing it is to know that the hand that fashioned the universe is also willing to shape and perfect the small bit of clay we have to offer him.

As skilled potters shape their projects, they use a variety of tools: throwing wheels, scrapers and ribs, fettling knives and needles, brushes, sponges, wires, and calipers. When any of us teaches the scriptures, doctrine, or history of the restored gospel, we not only can be personally molded by our Father in Heaven, but also, in turn, can be a tool he uses to craft and shape the understanding and testimonies of our students. Our usefulness to God in shaping and molding his children is largely dependent upon our personal worthiness, ability to be guided by the Spirit, and love for our students. As I have served in Religious Education at BYU, my life has been richly blessed by the master teachers that I have watched God employ to fashion the faith and understanding of students. It is a joy to be associated with colleagues anxious to be both clay and tools for the divine and supreme potter.

Terry Ball

Terry B. Ball
Dean of Religious Education