It is almost impossible to ever characterise the spirit of a time with one word, but if I were to characterise how the community around me feels this year, I would say, weary. We have not always been weary. In my city at least we started this year hopeful, and remained that way for some time. But as the year progressed the weariness set in, and took root, and grew. I cannot speak for everyone, but even the end of lockdown does not seem to have taken away the weariness altogether. And with that weariness is its near homonym, wariness. Many of us are wary of being hopeful, wary of what might lie around the next corner.
Even in these weekly reflections I am growing weary. It is an increasing challenge week by week to look devotionally at my life, increasingly difficult to put it into words. I am growing weary of the long ordinary and long for a new season, yet am wary – there it is again – of the prospect of the new.
But tonight I caught this simple lesson standing around the craft table in our spare room, as my wife and a dear friend of ours fashioned a cross with clay for the children to decorate. We were saying goodbye to our friend who is about to head overseas, to the country where she was working when the pandemic first hit. The cross is to remind us of her and to pray for her. As she and my wife worked on the cross, my children took the offcuts of clay and fashioned it into all manner of imaginary things, and watching the play and the art alongside each other I was reminded:
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)
God, it seems, keeps fashioning us, even as we grow weary and wary and ready to sleep for a long, long time. God neither grows weary nor is limited by our weariness. He promises us rest in our weariness, and He even uses rest to sculpt us. Sometimes rest is the very thing that is needed for us to let Him sculpt us, because we are no longer trying to be in control. Yet even in times when we can neither summon energy nor rest, God is still at work. Sometimes all we need do is say, “Lord, I am weary. Help.” And His hands will be shaping us as we speak.
I do not yet know how He is shaping me or those around me in these days. Some of what we are experiencing now is harder than I had ever imagined. Some of it is simply tiring, and some is plain ordinary. Yet the Potter continues to sculpt all the same. Maker of all time and space, nothing is too big for His hands.