Change: metamorphosis, variance, refinement. How would you describe it?
The word itself is so mundane, but change is so not. Change, when referring to the glorious change, is anything but ordinary.
If I have learned anything in my life within the past year, it is this encompassing truth: My life is purposefully designed to reflect the glory of God. Really, nothing else matters except how I choose to portray and display the heart of God to a devastatingly broken universe.
Honestly, I used to tune out when I heard “the glory of God” because it was too abstract and I didn’t understand the application of what it meant. I’m a practical kind of girl, and if something doesn’t break down into what this means for me and how I’m going to use it, I don’t need to store it in my mind.
So the glory of God was one of those I-don’t-really-get-the-application type things.
Thankfully, through salvation and an arduous (and continual) road of sanctification in my life, this happened:
“We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ… Whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:12–18).
The veil has been removed, I can see truth more poignantly each day, and praise God, I am being changed to be more like the quintessence of glory – God Himself.
So where’s the application; what does that even look like?
In my life, here’s what it looks like.
One: I am a pitifully prideful person. It is what I hate most about myself; if I could change anything, that would be it. I am so skilled at being critical of others. Though God has saved me from my self-righteousness, it is still a heart problem that surfaces daily. I have cried over it, felt really desperate about it, and even given up at times because of it.
God, in His all-glorious goodness, has gracefully given me precious moments of humility where I see the cross more clearly, and then the stones I cling tightly to in my hands (the ones I’m eager to throw at other people) hit the ground with an earthly thud because I know I can’t condemn.Why can’t I condemn? A) Because when Jesus hung on the cross and grieved over my sins that were causing him relentless pain, He chose not to condemn me; instead He was saving me (John 3:17). And B) Because God is changing me to be more like His glorious image (2 Cor. 2:18), which means humility must be my banner, and condemnation has no place in my heart. See, He gave me the example to go by; glory showed me how it’s done.
But I am painfully aware that in my own strength, I can’t follow that example. He’s the one making the glorious change in me. My flesh is all too weak, all too prideful, all too sinful to make that change apart from Christ.
Two: God is furthermore reflecting glory of His in me by teaching me kindness. Here’s another word I used to tune out. Kindness sounded so boring to me; anyone could be kind, Christian or not. I know a lot of really kind non-believers. So I didn’t consider this word to be particularly meaningful for me.
Oh, but I have learned so much more about the depth of kindness this year. Kindness is not soft; it is not simple; it is not pretty even, at times. I get it: it’s relatively easy to smile and say hello to someone and call it an act of kindness; we’re pretty used to this in the South, and I agree, it is wonderful! I encourage you to keep doing this and do it even more. That is kindness, quite truly.
But when you are faced with being kind to a world who is unkind to you, that is hard grace. I never knew how difficult it was to be kind until I was faced with circumstances that broke me and caused me grief; until I behaved in a way that was so starkly opposite of God’s kindness that I never even knew I was capable of such evil. When you choose kindness in the face of that darkness, you are revealing a supernatural kindness. That is no longer a sweet smile to a stranger at the grocery store; that is violent, grace-driven, requiring-every-ounce-of-your-will kindness. God is making me more like Him in that way. This is His kind of kindness. He owns that quality. Try being kind in His definition of the word.
Glory to Him alone, He’s teaching me this and causing me to reflect His glorious image in this way. But I don’t want to fool you. I fail quite often. Just yesterday, I acted unkindly to the woman on the other side of my 1-800 call to my insurance company. In my frustration of being transferred five different times, I finally took out my aggravation on her; I failed at kindness. And this happens often, but that conviction is present more immediately and more sharply than it ever was before.
Three: The most amazing change of glory that God is producing in me right now is something that I could 1,000% never do without Him. If He did not give me the example to follow and allow me to experience its reality personally, I’d never display His image in this particular aspect. It is His most glorious, I’d say: forgiveness.
God is beautifully crafting a colorful design of healing in my life, and I’m only just beginning to truly catch a glimpse of it, but there is no doubt in my mind that it is His work of change in me. He is causing my heart to be shifted to mirror His in the way He chooses forgiveness for those who have caused Him the deepest hurt, me at the forefront. John Piper has once said that God has forgiven me for more today alone than I will ever have to forgive someone in a lifetime.
He’s revealing to me the freedom that can be found in mirroring His glory of forgiveness, no matter what the circumstance and no matter how deep the emotions that are involved. He is, I believe, preparing me to reflect His glory in this light, and I couldn’t be more thankful to soon see the way this reflection casts its brilliant colors into people’s lives. I can’t wait to be able to reflect His image in the way He is most known for, the forgiveness no one deserved but which I, by grace, have benefited magnificently from; the forgiveness which now causes me to be changed by glory, into a reflection of glory.
This is just crazy; it’s outrageous. I – a dark, broken, mean, prideful, and wretched girl – am being fashioned moment by moment to reflect more brilliantly the glory of God. God is holy; he is so set apart and marvelous and majestic. How in the world could I reflect anything about Him? Praise be to God, that I would ever have such an opportunity and ability to do this. The opportunity comes from Him, by means of Jesus’ swallowing up death for me and giving me His victorious righteousness; the ability comes from Him, by means of the Holy Spirit who now lives in me and changes me, day to day, into more of His glorious image.
For all my Georgia Bulldawg fans: glory, glory, y’all.
This is glory.