Updated: Dec 23, 2021
"Surely everything He has made must be perfect." — St. Francis
We misunderstand God’s creative process in us. We think the work of creating us is already done, but it isn't. God is still creating us. We are each still clay on the wheel, shaped a little more each day toward the perfected wholeness he intends. And what a gift our becoming is! For what other Artist could have such love and such profound humility as to grant his art a say in its own creation? But that is what God has done with us. “Can the clay say no to the Potter?” asks the Apostle Paul. But we can say no to God. Why? Because he is making for himself a lover, not some vase to put on his shelf.
This is why the Scripture says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time, and he has set eternity in the hearts of men.” For it is not yet our time. Not fully. We are not yet finished. We are not yet what we will ultimately be. God has set eternity in our hearts as a man might set a seed in the earth, and every day lovingly guides and prunes it as it grows into a mighty oak.
This is the perfection God seeks in us, and that we seek in ourselves—not the sterile perfection of a manufactured knickknack, forged with no heart in the belly of a machine, but the exquisite perfection of a masterwork of art, its every surface caressed into wholeness by the hands of a true Master.
Everyone knows that the greatest works of art we create have nothing to do with clinical perfection. Rather, they have everything to do with imperfection made beautiful and whole by a master's touch. It is the same with us and God. We think he seeks perfection in us. But what he is after is wholeness. That is a very different thing, and attaining it, especially with a lump of clay that has an active will of its own, requires a different kind of creative process—long suffering, tender, time consuming, and exquisite.
This Divine shaping process is what Rilke is referring to when he writes to his protégé in Letters to a Young Poet:
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked doors and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
I would say the same to every human soul. Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. You are not yet finished. You are still being created. You are God’s most precious endeavor, the unfinished masterpiece that is dearest to his heart. You are emergent.
You are yet on his potter’s wheel, and are by his hand becoming whole. You will one day be complete, if you have faith and grant free reign to God's shaping in your life.
Rest assured, his dream for you is far grander and more beautiful than anything you can imagine.
“For it is God who is at work in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." — Philippians 2:13