I learned a new word today. I’m reading Sheila Walsh’s new book “When a Woman Trusts God”. She quotes John Cotton, a preacher in the Puritan times. “As long as there’s a wriggle left in you, you’re not ready.”
At first, I thought maybe the spell check in her computer had missed a word – surely she meant ‘wiggle’, but then I wondered if ‘wriggle’ was the English form of ‘wiggle’; kind of like ‘theater and theatre’. So, I googled the definition of wriggle.
Wriggle appears to be a combination of the words writhe and wiggle. Here’s what I found:
Remember when you were little and you needed to ‘get the wiggles out’? Or your mom would say ‘stop wiggling’, which seemed to be congruous with fidgeting. Wriggling is when someone has you in a lock, and you are trying to get out.
Have you been wondering what has gone desperately wrong with your life? Does God have you in a lock? Why? Perhaps He has something great He wants to do, but first, you have to stop getting in the way.
One of the biggest things I wonder about is whether I am supposed to do more, or do less. Perhaps life is causing me problems because I’m not trying had enough. Maybe, if I just work a little bit harder, I’ll reach that place that I can almost see – a plateau, a place to rest.
On the other hand, I wonder if God has me in His palm, waiting for me to stop wriggling, so He can do His work through me. This requires a different response. It isn’t the opposite of trying harder, because that would be giving up. To rest in God is to actively put my trust in Him and wait for His provision, His answers, His movement.
That resting only seems to come after struggles. Remember how Jacob wrestled with God? Remember how Elijah reached the end of his rope and ran to God – essentially to turn in his resignation in person? When we engage with God in His process, He changes us. We get to see life more from His perspective and less from our own. We become more like Him and less like ourselves.
My second daughter loves to make figurines from clay. The clay starts out a lump. Can you imagine being clay, knowing that you could be so much more, and wanting desperately to be a beautiful, useful object?
First, you need someone to squash you, mush you, get all the stuff out of you until you are pliable. Then, you get pulled and stretched, sometimes squashed back down and reworked. Eventually, you look in the mirror, and you see a beautiful grey figurine. “Yeah! I’ve reached my goal!” you cry. But you aren’t put on a shelf for display, you are put in the back room with pieces of clay. Then, someone comes and picks you up – at last! Someone has recognized your beauty! Alas, they put you in the kiln. A horribly hot place that pulls all of the remaining moisture out of you. This part requires you to remain very still, because the slightest movement can crack you. So there you sit, suffocating of heat and dry as a desert. Before too long, you begin to feel stronger. You are actually becoming the figurine, instead of clay in the shape of a figurine! The oven opens, someone sets you on a cooling tray. Maybe now, they will realize your beauty! Then, comes the glaze. Glazes aren’t that pretty when they are put on. The point of a glaze is what it does when it is heated. So now, you are dripping with gunk, and sure that your goal was just a pipedream.
“Yep, just a pipedream” you think, as they put you back into the fire. Life must be about the process instead of the goal, you decide. You begin to ride the waves of the process, just going through life one day at a time. Occationally you wonder, “What happens if the next process is even worse?” In defeat, you resign yourself to the process, hoping that things don’t get any worse. Sitting there in the heat, this oven is becoming a quiet place, a place where you can reflect. It is becoming a place of comfort.
Then the door opens again. Now you are placed on another drying shelf…and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror – you can hardly believe your eyes. You are no longer clay. You are no longer a drab piece of potter. You no longer look like a child’s project, dripping with goo. Now you have become that object you dreamt of. Suddenly the process makes sense.
The fact is that we can’t become an object of beauty on our own. We can’t become ministers on our own. It really is the process of life that sheds us of self and turns us into what God intended us to be. Wriggling is part of the molding process, I think. It comes right before the kiln.