Psalms 139:16 says:
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Does that mean that God made me? Yes. Does that mean that He planned out and orchestrated all my days for me? Yes. And He did it all before I was even born? Yes! This verse speaks of a wonderful truth: we are valuable to God. We were not an accident, evolved from a one-celled organism by chance. We were “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
But let us not overlook the part that says, “…being yet unformed.” That word in Hebrew is golem. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material. In Psalm 139:16, we are described as golems; unformed, unfinished products of a higher Creator.
Paul, while imprisoned and surely in a most dire situation, chose to write a letter to a church in Philippi. In his letter, Paul shares his desires to know Christ, experience the power of his resurrection, and participate in his sufferings. The readers of the letter would have stopped after reading that and said, “Wait…but you do know Christ and have experienced the power of his resurrection (on the road to Damascus), and you surely are suffering for Him right now. Why are you saying you desire those things?” For this reason Paul continues to explain in the first half of verse 13, in the 3rd chapter of Philippians:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
Earlier in his letter (1:6), he acknowledged that no human can be perfect while on Earth, but he also encouraged them that although they may feel like they have a long way to go in their faith and Christian walk, Jesus is in fact right there, pushing them along.
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
The second half of verse 13 has the solution to helping attain his desires:
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…
Your past has NO MORE power over you! Just fuggedaboutit! If I were to sum up one of the themes in the letter to the Philippians, it would be 1) RECOGNIZE that you are unfinished, 2) REJOICE in the fact Jesus is constantly working on you, and 3) RUN toward the prize, that is, an eternity in the presence of the Lord.
Speaking again of golem, in Jewish folklore, a golem is described as an animated anthropomorphic being that is magically created entirely from inanimate matter (specifically clay or mud). Adam, according to the Talmud (Jewish writings), was created as a golem. The term then later became used to describe someone who was simple-minded and did whatever the master asked of him. A golem, instead of becoming an animate human, remained inanimate, made up of what he was created from (dirt!). The saying of a specific word or removal of a certain letter from a word carved on its forehead would cause the golem to disintegrate.
What does this mean for us? Whereas the concept of a golem is clearly mythical, the idea of an unfinished person is clearly used throughout the Bible. Let us take the lessons learned from Paul, as well as the symbolism behind the Jewish golem, and strive to be more than an unformed, unfinished hunk of dirt! Isaiah 45:9 says,
Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?
Let us grow beyond the foolish, selfish flesh that makes up our person. Let our soul (mind, will, and emotion) seek wisdom and fellowship with God, willing our flesh to submit to Jesus’ instruction. And last, but definitely not least, nourish your spirit and make your life’s mission to know Jesus, experience His resurrection, and participate in Christ’s suffering.