St. Jane, Woman of Suppleness
This image of God shaping the individual is present throughout Scripture: the image of God the potter and of us his clay, God forming and knowing us even in our mothers’ wombs, the Psalmists crying to God to be shaped and reformed.
St. Jane de Chantal uses these images to help us understand God’s work in our lives and to help us place ourselves in God’s hands in a spirit of quiet resignation. The challenges she met in her life on many levels attest to her willingness to be molded and formed by the Spirit of God. She found strength and consolation in knowing that she belonged to God alone and thus could meet the losses of loved ones which she suffered so many times with equanimity and peace.
One day in speaking to the sisters, she referred to a favorite topic–the attitude of complete abandonment of all that concerns us into the hands of God:
May God make us strong in his holy love and soft and supple as a glove; may we be like a ball of warm beeswax in God’s hands to be molded as he pleases; may we be fashioned like a piece of cloth that is cut out to make a garment; may we allow ourselves to be folded as we would fold a handkerchief.
I. How has God shaped or molded you?
2. Are you open to God’s work in your life?
3 Are there areas in your life in which you are resistant to God’s shaping?
4. What are some useful images of shaping from Scripture and from our modern world?
Then the word or God came to me; can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:5,6)
Yet,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)
The precious children of Zion, worth their weight in gold–how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter’s hands. (Lamentations 4:2)
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13; 14)
God will take you in his arms, dear Sister, and lift you to the perfection of his love. Gaze on him simply and straightforwardly and let him do as he pleases.
My Sisters, the soul that is so happy to repose in God’s hands by entire confidence is never shaken by anything. Everything turns out well for it. Everything that is according to God’s mind pleases it. The soul that has fixed all its confidence in God never has need of anything because he in whom it confides, has such care of it, that he ever has his eye upon it, for its good.
A soul truly humble is not to lay claim to abasement nor elevation, but to remain in holy indifference, receiving from God’s hand everything he may send it.