The Shaping Hand of God
I used to have a mostly static view of the spiritual life. The Scriptures use language that give us an image of God as the great Sculptor. God works on our form and substance, gently molding us into an image that God holds within God’s own eye. Using our experiences, God is able to shape the contours of our life. God is able to deftly remove the imperfections and polish us into a work of art. While this is a powerful image, it is not capable of fully capturing the essence of the spiritual life. It is too stationary to do justice to the journey metaphor that our life often resembles.
I believe there is a different way to understand how God is at work in our life. The Journey is a fairly common metaphor for our life. We recognize the twists and turns. There are times when we are grateful for a companion to walk the path with us. I suspect we could also tell stories about the mentors who showed us the way when our path was unclear. While we know these things, the question remains: How does our journey shape us? There is an old axiom, “experience is the best teacher”, which bears much truth for us. However true it may be for us; the axiom falls short of being universally true.
Grace For the Journey
The statement lacks intentionality. It seems too random. Scripture routinely reminds us that God is both an observer of our journey and a participant. The Holy Spirit is at work in and through each experience. In this work is the grace to learn and grow in our relationship with God. Through these experiences God brings depth to our faith and being. God also helps knock of the sharp edges of our life that do damage to others as we rumble down the path. This grace is at work every step along the way once we choose the path of Christian discipleship. Through this grace we are given the opportunity to grow into wholeness in every relationship and through every situation.
The theologians call this miracle Sanctifying Grace. For John Wesley, Sanctifying Grace is a critical part of our life and relationship with Jesus. It is the experience that enables us to grow in our ability to share the gifts in a way that bears witness to Christ and his self-giving love. Our call is to embrace this gift. We become partners with God in our own journey. This Sunday, as we consider Romans 6:1-11, a passage in which Paul calls us to live in “newness of life”, we will celebrate the power of Sanctifying Grace.
I invite you to join us on Sunday as we practice our faith together.