A year ago today I went on retreat to prepare to be ordained as a deacon. The retreat leader shared this wisdom from Irenaeus:
It is not thou that shapest God; it is God that shapest thee.
If thou art the work of God, await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season.
Offer him thy heart, soft and tractable, and keep the form in which the artist has fashioned thee.
Let the clay be moist, lest thou grow hard and lose the imprint of his fingers.
One year on and I have tried to live in the light of this passage. I have tried to resist both shaping God and living with left over images of God from my childhood which don’t reflect the God I have got to know over the years. I have tried to be shaped by God and even today got an insight from a Psalm about who God was calling me to be. I try to be patient too – the phrase “in due season” can be enormously frustrating for someone who quite likes things now although I realise that there are benefits to deferred gratification! I wonder sometimes why ordination has happened quite so far along in my Christian journey but I am aware that I don’t always see the whole picture, just some of the bits of the puzzle.
The idea that it is God that shapes me challenges my desire to be in control – it implies vulnerability and openness to another. But I long for the image of God to be more and more revealed through who I am and what I do and to be able to look back in another year’s time and be able to say “it is God that shapest me”.