Are you a Tardy Soul? | From an Old Soul
Today’s sonnet is for tardy women and men everywhere. Are you one of them? If so, you have lots of company, including George MacDonald himself. As is often the case, MacDonald’s route to this un-astonishing insight is circuitous at best. I’ve changed several pronouns to first person plural. My comments follow.
Will this not then show grandest fact of all
In thy creation victory most renowned—
That thou hast wrought thy will by slow and small,
And made us like thee, though thy making bound
By that which we were not, and could not be
Until thou mad’st us make along with thee?
Master, the tardiness is but in me.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1994
Is MacDonald impatient with the slow pace of the Master? In the last sonnet he says that the Master moves with “godlike speed” when joining us in our ‘sore need.’ Getting into our muck and mess, helping us figure things out.
Now he seems to be doing a bit of backward, upside-down analysis. Instead of “godlike speed,” he now says the “grandest fact of all” is that the Master works things out “by slow and small!”
In fact, the Master Creator actually does this intentionally, fashioning us so that we aren’t yet what we could be. Instead of building in gradual obsolescence, it seems the Master builds in room for steady growth.
Yes, we’re created in the image of God (‘made…like thee’). But No! We’re not yet in the fullest likeness possible for human beings. The Master’s plan includes room for growth. Just so we’re willing to work with, instead of against the Master.
So why does this matter? Because our human problem isn’t whether the Master wants us to grow more into the likeness of God. No, our human problem is whether we’re willing to do our part. Or better, whether we’re prepared to move ahead regardless of the cost or effort required on our part.
The Master isn’t a magician who can wave a wand and make it happen. We must work with the Master. This isn’t an irrational demand. It’s the natural result of the way God created us.
The Master won’t override our choices. This means it may take huge effort on both sides if we’re going to get anywhere together.
Finally, MacDonald says directly that in his case, the Master isn’t holding things back at all. MacDonald himself is tardy, not the Master. In fact, the Master’s greatest struggle might be to exercise patience with us, though not necessarily unlimited patience.
Bottom line: We’re all tardy students. Tardy children. We like to drag our feet. If I wait long enough, maybe it will happen all by itself. Or just go away!
Fat chance, says MacDonald. Or was that God’s voice?
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 August 2015