i am the clay

Beth Booram, who has written a really good book called Awaken Your Senses, posted this quote from Irenaeus on Facebook today.

“It is not you who shapes God, it is God who shapes you.
If then you are the work of God, await the hand of the artist
Who does all things in due season.
Offer God your heart, soft and tractable,
And keep the form in which the artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist,
Lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of God’s fingers.”

      As I read this, I realized keeping my heart soft is a challenge in the midst of lots to do, and in the midst of leading others.  At times, I can shut off my heart in order to plow through things that must be done.  By the time I’m ready to let down and respond to Him, I can be too weathered, or hardened to re-capture the moment of need.

How would you finish this post?   What steps do you take in order to keep your heart“soft and tractable” in His hands?

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8 Responses to i am the clay

  1. Beth Booram says:

    Thanks, Andrea, for sharing. This is a helpful image, isn’t it? It’s like I know what it means, what it’s like when my heart is soft and tractable. I want to stay there–but easier said than done.

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, very helpful. I’m just realizing that my soft heart gets tougher through the sometimes challenging rough and tumble of my days. I’m suspicious that if I’m not processing with the Lord as often as possible that hardness can set in pretty fast.

  2. Kristin says:

    This is a great question, Andrea, and perhaps one that people are reluctant to compare notes on. I once asked a wise counselor this very question, because I felt my heart crusting over. He reminded me that, in the book of Revelation, Jesus advises a group who had lost their first love to “repent and do the things which you did at first.” So, hm, what did I used to do? Thinking back, I used to clear my schedule for more alone time. I would temporarily “fast” from things that kept me propped up (basically, anything available at a drive thru!), I would sing praise songs directly to God in my car, very aware of my audience of one! I just relaxed and enjoyed God. And those are things I do today, when I sense the onset of calcification. Except for the singing…perhaps I should start that up again, even though I don’t sing anywhere better than 25 years ago!

    • Andrea says:

      You may be right, Kristin – perhaps it’s too personal? I like the reminder from your counselor as well as your fasting from the things that prop you up. That’s a good thing for me to think about. What am I relying on other than the Lord? What I was thinking about this morning is the reality of grace, God meeting us where we are, crusty, hardened, or soft. Thanks for responding, Kristin! I hope you’re feeling better.

  3. Anne Marie Winz says:

    I’m doing some reading for IBS Bible Study Methods class. In the book God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible, Vaughan Roberts suggests that the seventh day when God rested from all of his works never ended because it didn’t have this tagline: Then there was evening and morning, the seventh day.

    Could it be that the seventh day hasn’t yet ended because God is still resting from all of his works in creation and that He invites us into that rest? Vaughn immediately states that he doesn’t mean that God is now some detached grandfatherly figure who wound up the world like a clock and is now sitting by watching it unwind. He is intimately involved in every detail of our lives, but he is done with Creation. How much can you add to something done perfectly?

    In Hebrews 4, the author warns us to enter into God’s rest instead of hardening our hearts. If unbelief and disobedience lead to hardened hearts, would it stand to reason that obedience and trust lead to softened hearts?

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Andrea says:

      When God finished creating, He rested. He also gave men and women dominion to rule over Creation. So in that sense, I don’t think our work is finished. when I read the question, “how much can you add to something done perfectly?” I immediately thought of the perfect sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. The answer is nothing. I can add nothing to what He has already done. I can rest in that. when it comes to keeping my heart soft, physical rest alone is not enough, though it is a start. I want to say “slow down” and “listen.” To be still means I’m not doing other things. The task given to us by Him is not done. Sometimes, that in itself may get in the way of experiencing Him and His rest.

      What do you think?

  4. Anne Marie says:

    I love the thought of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for us on the cross. What a beautiful picture. You’re right. It’s finished for all time. I can add nothing to it.

    I think there is merit to slowing down and listening. To be still means I am not doing other things. That thought challenges me, especially in a culture where so many around me pride themselves on being able to do more than one thing at a time.

    You write that the task given to us by Him is not done. What is that task? How does it, being unfinished, get in the way of experiencing Him and His rest? I know, I’m supposed to think of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. I take that charge very seriously.

    However, in John 6, the crowds asked Jesus what they should do to perform God’s works. He answered them: “This is the only work God wants from you. Believe in the one he has sent.”

    Belief leads to action (finishing the task), but does action then lead to rest? Can we experience rest in the midst of action, or, are rest and action mutually exclusive? Where is the rest that so frequently eludes most of us? Am I splitting linguistic hairs? I hope not.

    Thank you for carrying on the conversation with me. I’m grateful.

    • Andrea says:

      Rest has to be found in our relationship with Jesus. We rest from our work because of the Cross; we enter into His yoke which is light and easy. Just today, Steve gave the example of Martha who, upon the death of Lazarus, never asked Jesus to raise Him from the dead, though she was possibly aware of the raising of Jairus’s daughter. Sometimes I think the rest is elusive because like her, or like the disciples who had two fishes and five loaves, they never thought to ask Jesus to do something when He was right there. Perhaps we don’t have rest because we try to do things on our own limited resources. We don’t recognize that we have One who could do the impossible right with us. We continue to think and try to work out our own plans to solve the problems before us. What do you think?

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