Recently I was part of a church retreat discussing God’s work of justification, sanctification, and glorification in the lives of Christians. In simple terms, this is the redemptive work of God that transforms us and makes us new…like God (Eph 4.24). The New Testament is full of imagery as to how this process comes about. In the Gospel of John, though already God in the flesh, Jesus found glorification through his suffering death. For both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter, this process came about through trials and sufferings. So it seems clear that God is reshaping us into his likeness through the daily struggles we face. That is not to say that God is the cause of pain and affliction. It is just to say that God works through the adverse circumstances of a broken world to justify, sanctify, and glorify his people.
That is what we want…right? That is what I want…or at least the words out of my mouth speak of such desire. The scripture which probably reflects this desire more than anything are the words of the Apostle Paul:
I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Phil 3.10-12, TNIV)
I used to pray this as a prayer. I still do…I still want to. I even remember singing the song “Make me more like you Lord Jesus, more like you…for it seems in so many ways I’m not enough like you…” Oh did I ever want that. I would pray for God to do whatever it takes….
Then on August 2, 2002 my son, Kenny, died.
I learned something about myself at this church retreat. I am afraid to pray the prayer for God’s justification, sanctification, and glorification in my life because I’m afraid of what adverse circumstances God might allow me to live through in order to get there. I am afraid because there has never been something which hurt so much as losing my child. I am afraid because if I give up that control which wants to protect myself from what I fear then what will happen next.
I want to pray the prayer for transformation again but… That is just it. I know there can be no “but” attached to the prayer…no conditions and stipulations placed upon God. I either must trust God that it will all be worth it on that day of glorification and leave it at that.
My mind says “Yes!” The Spirit of God living in me says “Yes!” But my wounded heart says remains silent, unsure of what to say. It wants to say “Yes!” It knows it should say “Yes!” But my heart knows of the pain that exists between Friday, the day of crucifixion, and Sunday, the day of resurrection.
Can I trust God? Can I trust God enough to say “Yes!” when so much between Friday and Sunday remain unknown?
Here is a video, which I have posted before, to a hymn I have come to love…a hymn which undoubtedly reminds me to say yes even when my heart wants to remain silent.
Libera, “Be Still, My Soul”