Friday, April 24, 2015

For “Himself”

I recall certain Pygmalion stories—Shaw's “My Fair Lady” for example—in which a benefactor finds a miserable wretch, lifts her out of her helplessness and defilement and gives her a new life. All this he does not only for her sake, but also for his.

God is  that benefactor, lifting us out of sin and squalor, recreating us in his image for our good. But more than that—for His!

All through our lives God has been wooing us, nurturing us, investing his infinite resources to refine our passions, molding, shaping, revising us with His love.

And why? So we can enjoy him? Indeed! But more than that: God is changing us so He may enjoy us forever!         

Robert Browning has written a poem employing the figure of a potter molding a cup that wonderfully expresses this idea:[1]

He fixed thee 'mid this dance
         Of plastic circumstance,
This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest:
         Machinery just meant
         To give thy soul its bent,
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.

         Look not thou down but up!
         To uses of a cup,
The festel board, lamps flash and trumpet's peal,
         The new wine’s foaming flow,
         The Master's lips aglow!
Thou, heaven's consummate cup,
         what need'st thou with earth's wheel?

         But I need, now as then,
         Thee God, who mouldest men;
And since, not even while the whirl was worst,
         Did I—to the wheel of life
         With shapes and colors rife,
Bound dizzily—mistake my end: to slake Thy thirst!

—Robert Browning

Or as David would say, “Always keep this thought in mind: The Lord has set apart the godly[2] for Himself” (Psalm 4:3).

David Roper

[1] “Rabbi Ben Ezra”
[2] The “godly” are not a class of super–saints, but “those who are characterized by love for God and neighbor”—the end product of the Potter’s wheel. They are the true “hasidim,” the plural form of the noun hesed, that rich Old Testament word for covenant love.

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