When the kindly stork tenderly deposits our swaddled, newborn selves on the front stoop of the dwelling which will become our home, and the family which will become ours from this time forth, there is much in store. While we are bundles of genes and traits and personality that come included, there is a boatload of becoming yet to be realized. We’re sort of like Play-Doh, the children’s multi-colored modeling clay, soft, supple, and ready to be molded and shaped by a host of hands and voices. And shaped we are! Everything from hugs and holdings and feedings to rocking chair rockings and lullaby-singing and diaper changes to rubber-ducky bath times – all these are the beginnings of the long forming process. Thousands of interactions with humans and animals, both good and otherwise, shape us, too. Along the ongoing maturing process, we become less passive, less receptive, and begin to voice our feelings. The ensuing reactions of those around us are shaping tools as well. By the time we’re declared adults our mold is mostly set (and this may be why further shaping is done with greater effort, sometimes greater resistance and greater pain and why this continuum of maturation drags on longer and longer in order to bear fruit).
And yes, as our mostly-set ‘molds’ are launched out on this journey of discipleship, we, like those original twelve guys, find certain commitments more of a challenge than others. We may be determined, more or less, to complete the mission we’ve been given, provided it’s been made clear to us what that mission is. Watching for distractions along the way demands our knowing what things most easily distract us, but, as obvious as it may sound, we are not necessarily aware of our list of potential pitfalls, what the French refer to as our ‘péchés mignons,’ our cute little sins, or what one English professor referred to as our peccadilloes. Keeping in prayer touch turns up the heat as prayer, by its very nature, is an admission of weakness, of a need for direction, of (gulp) help. Nearly all mostly-set molds strain at this one as it careens on a collision course with our egos, our ‘I’ll do it myself’ mentality. The learning curve steepens considerably when thinking about being the kind of person who regularly demonstrates, of all things, grace! We want the whole world to do that for us, but to be obliged to do the same seems preposterous when looking through the lens of our Adam nature. And we are not yet at the finish line. More is required of us in following our Master, Jesus. He holds the light for us and holds out his hand for us. He offers his Spirit for strength and courage and wisdom – and restraint! How sweet to know he is always here for us! How sweet to be known by name by him! How sweet to be let in on the end of the story! As the song says: ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know what you’ve done.’ I think we’re completely safe in this Potter’s hands. PD