We want to be perfect. We want perfection's work complete within our souls. We also fight against it and it's processes more frequently than we realize. Sanctification is a process we fight for and against concurrently... Two natures... Two states of being coexisting, overlapping, tearing us in two.
In prayer this morning, I impatiently asked God to heal my heart, to make it more fully desire his ways and not the broken lies it has grown comfortable believing. I said I knew one day my heart would be fully redeemed, in the resurrection, but until then I wanted to be totally free from sin's work in my life. He in return asked me if I was sure I wanted that... If I was ready for that... If I knew what I was really asking. Because with a perfected heart I would think and act much differently... Such a jostling act would destroy my life as I know it, shift many of my aims and plans, affect my relationships, reprioritize my life and dreams, and possibly even lead me to the fray of human society as a sort of crucified outcast who doesn't fit in and constantly challenges and threatens the status quo, not just with his words but by his very existence. To be perfected in the middle of a broken world leads to great discomfort. Pain. Sorrow. Death... Its the role of the one eyed man in the land of the blind... He may be king, but he is also a freak and an outsider. Such premature perfection would be to see God as He is before we are truly ready for it (in the same way as God protected Moses from seeing him by hiding Moses in the clef of a rock)... It would be instant transformative change based on full revelation of God and his truth... Every part of our lives that is built on anything but truth and love would die, for no man can see God and live; that is, continue to live the life he is accustomed to living. To be set free and to be transformed to a new life is to judge the old life... To truly live is to die. Such a transformation is promised in the resurrection when we shall be like him for we will see him as he is. Until that day, as sanctification's processes grow in our lives we must patiently and progressively count the costs, move forward in faith-full responses to Christ's loving call, and submit to his gracious process in our lives.
Is that why the language in Scripture is built around choice... Two roads, two gates, two foundations... Two trees? Is that why God allows sanctification's work take so much time? Like resurrection, it meets us in our dead state and ushers us towards life, bringing the created order around us along for the ride... transforming people and things around us in the process? Would the shock of instantaneous sanctification be too much for us (tearing us in two as it were)? Would it be too much for those around us? Would the transformation from death to life seem more like dying or living to us? Would ripping us out of our current state and into our new glorious state be so rapid that it would leave everyone and everything in our lives completely behind... So far behind that they could no longer really come along for the ride? Isn't God's lifelong gradual process of sanctification more loving, more in line with his plan, more in tune with the inauguration of his kingdom? Does it not seem more wise, (to those of us impatient ones)... more gracious and loving? Doesn't it seem more fitting of God to help us change at our own rate, dying one small death at a time... adjusting to the hot waters of his holiness... Being cleansed gradually from one impurity, then another? Don't God's processes of trial and temptation which remove impurities and cleanse us from false ideologies and idolatries, seem overbearing as they are when we are in the midst of them? Isn't it loving and caring that our God does not cleanse us from all of our impurities at once... That he does not place more on us than we can bear? Isn't it also amazing that He stands ready to supply us with access to his limitless storehouses of resurrection power when we do desire help overcoming a certain struggle or sin or area of disbelief, and our hearts stand truly ready for the change? How often do we deceive ourselves that we are ready for this or that area of our lives to be fully redeemed, when part of our heart is not truly ready at all? Do we not believe that God knows what timing is best for us? Do we not trust that he sees more than our momentary need, but is also working things out for our ultimate good... For the good of those around us and for his matchless glory? What patience leads him to be so intricately involved in this arduous process of our sanctification?
Sanctification is a gradual resurrection.
My prayer for sanctification will no longer resemble a complaint about repeated struggles with sin, frustration about my imperfect state, doubt towards an all knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful God, and his pacing processes. Instead I will pray, "Father, I want to be free from this, but more than that I want to want to be free from this... help my heart to grow fully ready to change in a timing that best honors you and your plan for my life and best leads those around me." I will trust him in the tension between the two worlds of death and life. I will trust his Spirit to carry me safely across the divide. As I pass over Jordan, I will not fear the water, but I will stand in awe of him and cling to his promises and character. I will cling to the hope of the Promised Land... Of the life abundant... Of union with God.
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