Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Am The One Who Has Changed

While Daniel and I were in Shanghai last week, I borrowed a book from our friends' bookshelf: Soul Keeping by Howard Baker. What a treasure of great insights! The following passage has especially encouraged me today:

What is hard for many of us to accept is this: The journey of faith will take us through the many changing conditions of the soul. We may not have expected things to get tougher before they get better. Certainly we did not expect to have our innermost selves exposed—our misgivings about God, our doubt, apathy, disillusionment, depression. Because many of us think like people who are supposed to have arrived, we do not think of these as interior conditions God may lead us through to show us greater glimpses of Himself...

Christians are often told that the end goal of following God is something like this: “to live a good, moral life,” or “to live without worries,” or “to go to heaven.” These are inadequate and less than biblical notions of the soul's highest end. The true goal is captured by the visionary apostle John:

Beloved, now we are children of God,
and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.
We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him,
because we shall see Him just as He is.”
(1 John 3:2)

To see Christ face-to-face, “just as He is,” means far more than “putting a face to a name.” This is what we say when we meet someone to whom we've spoken on the phone but never met in person. John implies something deeper: to see Him face-to-face means that the true “face” of my soul—all of the attitudes and expressions I may have hidden within me, masked by the face I put on in public—will meet the attitudes of God as shown in Christ. Then my soul will understand fully for the first time all that was in God's heart toward me, all that He meant to accomplish by what He led me through in my life. Then awe, joy, and gratitude will melt away my final resistance, and we will become, at last, spiritually one.

As I progress on the spiritual journey, there is a quiet transformation that occurs in my life—God occurs in my life. God seems to change, but in reality, I am the one who has changed. This is beautifully illustrated in this exchange between Aslan, the lion Christ-figure, and the young girl Lucy from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia:

“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you're bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

As we grow in our love for Christ, experience of Christ, and obedience in Christ, He looms larger and larger so that we can begin to say with the apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ.” And we gladly join John the Baptist in proclaiming, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

Until that day, our journey is to experience the character and presence of the living Christ ever deepening in us.

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