Feeling a little “old” lately. Aches and pains where they didn’t used to be. Pounds where they didn’t used to be. And less energy than there used to be. But I have a 20-month-old granddaughter who loves to run and climb and play, and I am the one who chases and catches and plays with her, even when I don’t feel like it. In this midst of this, I ponder a truth of my faith.
We are in Christ, “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Paul says. Gone, huh? But here we sit with the same arthritic knees and itchy scalps we had yesterday. We ‘re still nearsighted and lame, we sport migraines and backs that ache. We wander through the world, disliking our jobs and struggling to pay the mortgage. “O, I have bought the mansion of a love but not possessed it. And though I am sold, not yet enjoyed,” moans Juliet after her marriage, while she’s waiting for her wedding night. We are the bride of Christ…but while the wedding photos are faded, the honeymoon always seems to be just over the horizon.
The spiritual reality is that we have been bought with a price, but too often it’s easier to feel like we’re still on the shelf. And so we have to act, think, speak “as if”…as if there has been a real transformation. Our trouble is that we see through a foggy, splotchy mirror, badly in need of resilvering. We get glimpses of who we really are, but until the Son burns off the mist in that yet-to-be Day, we won’t get a clear view.
I don’t feel like a new creation today. Or most days. Truthfully, I feel like it a few minutes out of a few days. Does that count? I try to act like a new creation all the time…to be what I’m not. How to do that without just being phoney is the big question. I’ve been taking it for granted that we can do it. But today I’m facing it head on: “Be what you’re not” is ringing in my ears (or is it the phone, and my hearing is slipping again?) and I have to ask, “How do I do that?” Because although we’re called out, to be separate from the world, “holy” as God is holy…we’re still here. I live in a neighborhood, in a town, in a state, in a country, in a world…in which most of the humans are not saints, in any sense of the word. I rub elbows with them in Wal-Mart, walk by them at the park, idle behind them while we watch a slow train passing. There is no place I can go to claim my sainthood certificate and set up my small shop surrounded by other saints, away from the world at large. Most of the time, I look more like the world than I care to admit. Being what I’m not…sometimes it feels forced and unfamiliar. Getting better, but not always by much. I’d rather read a book than write or call or go and visit someone. I’d rather take a nap than read a book. Oh, help–an apple turnover would trump a nap right now. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Here’s a thought: Being what I’m not means seeing myself as God sees me. He sees a reality which is ultimate, and for my timeless Creator it’s right now even though I’m still waiting for its arrival. Being what I’m not means living in hope: my faith in my Faithful God–what He’s said and done, and my trust in what He’s promised to do. I don’t see it yet, but He does, and I’m supposed to believe Him.
Come to think of it, it’s rather the same way that we look at our kids. They’re goofy and gangly, have issues with skin and hair and vocal range. They make stupid choices, have trouble being logical. But we see something in them that hasn’t fully emerged yet, like the finished masterpiece trapped in marble before the sculptor chisels it free. They may not believe it will ever happen, but we do. And maybe we treat them more like a masterpiece, and less like a lump of stone. More like what they’re not, but what they will be: a new creation. Just the way our Father treats us.
Oh. “Father, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me to be, and to become, what I’m not…yet.”