This word is used in Psalm 139 (verse 16) and elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is Yatsar. Like many Hebrew words the English translation doesn't do it justice. The words formed, woven, built, crafted and designed are all part of Yatsar. The word implies intent, continuance and structure. The closest image I can think of is the complex process of sermon planning and writing. Maybe Nicey can relate to this as she works on a new book or compendium of stories.
One of the things I have worked on over the past few weeks (while I wasn't working on Charge Conference stuff) is fall and Advent sermons. Most of you might think this is a week-to-week or even day-to-day process, but for me it is not. The process includes prayer, mostly the listening kind. What is God doing? Where is God leading? What will grow God's people? What will build up this gathering of Christians? What will challenge us? What will inspire us? What will humble us? What will bring unity? What will allow us to be part of God's plan? These questions float on the wind as prayers and often the answers come like flower petals floating back on the wind to be gathered, seen and smelled.
The process of writing is multi-layered also. There is an idea. The idea causes further thought. What will bring the idea to life? What does God want the idea to look like? How can it be structured so that the hearer can make sense of it? Like writing a song or painting a picture, the act of sermon writing is process, art, alchemy, architecture and construction. All of this is why the word Yatsar is used.
God's word uses the word Yatsar in multiple ways. In Psalm 139:16 it is used to speak about the forming of an individual. In Isaiah 43:1 it is used to describe the process of building the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 18:2 it describes the work of 'the potter' as God forms and directs His message through the prophets. It is a beautifully-complex way of realizing that God is a creator, director and former of all things. And all of those things respond to His purpose.
Where are you in that process? Many of us think we are on the spiritual heap of pottery shards, part of an idea that just didn't pan out. Some may think we are a beautiful work of art on a shelf to be displayed for others to admire. My view (hopefully formed by Scripture) is that we are all part of the artistic process as God forms us as individuals, molds us collectively as a Church, writes work-order changes on our hearts, and gives us direction, purpose and functionality to be used, usable and useful in His overall plan.
May you be formed daily into the person and Church God is designing. May He write you into the novel called life. May the notes of your song rhyme with His tune. And may your journey be always tracking toward His place. In Jesus ... Randy