Master Potter, Form me
This academic year in API ends much as it began – with hope. How many of you attended the inaugural event, “Master Potter, Simple Clay”? I enjoyed the way the Master Potter theme was used throughout the year. We saw it in Mulholland's Shaped by the Word, and in our year-long text, Soul Shaping, by Stephen W. Smith. I just finished the last exercise in session eight of Soul Shaping. As he wraps up the book, he lists and describes the value of spiritual disciplines in continuing the process God began when he first formed us. Jan Johnson describes transformation this way: “Our task is to do the connecting while God does the perfecting.” Dallas Willard observes that, “somewhat ironically, perhaps, all of the ‘spiritual disciplines’ are, or essentially involve, bodily behaviors…” Both of these ideas tell me that, although it is God’s business to do the supernatural work of transforming me, I can cooperate with him.
Smith lists ten spiritual disciplines that can help us on our individual journeys toward Christ-likeness. All of these are things we have been practicing this year. For more detail see pages 191-194. The disciplines are:
Celebration – “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
Contemplation – Reflection, not just reaction.
Fellowship – Creating safe places for heart-to-heart sharing.
Guidance – Affirmation and gentle challenge of a soul friend.
Journaling – Pouring out the heart with honesty.
Submission – Yielding to the wisdom of another.
Prayer – In any of its various forms.
Silence – We learn to listen to God’s voice.
Solitude – So we can hear God’s words.
Study – To become better informed about the journey ahead.
These are all recommended to help shift our dependence from ourselves or other people, to God and to his kingdom. Which of these has been most meaningful for you? Which of these do you want to work on?
Personally, where I think have I progressed the most is in Soul Friendship. I am practicing prayerful listening in all kinds of situations I never thought of before – like on the phone during a call for customer support, or at the business meeting of my homeowner’s association. In every encounter I have with another person, God is asking me to see this person as one who is fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, His handiwork, created for good works prepared in advance.
Another thing I bring away is the understanding that though this work is sometimes painful, it is much easier when it is shared. Dr. Gary Rohrmayer said at a conference I attended last fall, “I believe we are all on a spiritual journey and that we don’t have to take it alone.” In the seminars and on retreats, I love the way we can be alone together with God.