GUEST POST from the blog of a brother in Christ who took a giant new milestone step on January 24th for “the first day of the rest of his life.” He is on a journey of transformation, as we all are.
(On the Feast Day of Saint Francis de Sales)
I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...(Galatians 2:19)Neither shall they say: Behold here, or behold there. For lo, the kingdom of God [God's very Being] is within you. (Luke 17:21)
Our journey with God and into God is not about a “destination” but a transformation. It is a transformation from (just) me living, into one where the Living God becomes an ever-present Reality living with me! It is a journey of re-membering, God ‘putting’ me back together as he sees fit. And this journey is filled with real life stuff: depression, hope, miracles, addiction, freedom, anger, love, joy, ‘failure,’ listening, following, sometimes leading and sometimes being led.
And lest I forget, if Messiah is living in me, then every single life I come into contact with and touch is being touched by him. So, daily, I am being and becoming - through the power of the Spirit - the fleshing out of God's love here and now. As it was said to me some 20 years ago,"Niles, your life may be the only Gospel people ever see and hear! So, how you living, brother?!"
This transformative journey is one of me becoming more transparent – a transparency where you see more and more of God in me and less and less of just me. It is a paradoxical beauty, for I lose my life in order to get it back, more whole/holy, more loving, more real, and in truth—more Niles. For me Without God I am a selfish, spiteful, oh-so-full-of-myself addict. But me letting God live in and through me, (and this all through the Spirit) is a Niles who is gentle, compassionate, loving, honest, forgiving, and a playful servant.
What an amazing and hard thing to grasp: God lives in me! Me?!? For any of you who have been touched by the darker sides of me, you too can scratch your heads along with me. But – and that is a big but – all praise be to the God Who forgives, heals, and loves. When God decides to transform a life that is fully surrendered to him, there is no limit, NO LIMIT, to what God can and will do to and through that person.
So I ask: are you and I on a journey that is about a destination? Or are we on a journey that is about Transformation?
Here is a Beauty-Full Truth to assist and comfort us on the journey: the moment – the very moment– we ask him, God comes into us and begins the transformative work immediately (although it does take a lifetime for completion). I echo the sentiments of the Scriptures, “that I am sure of this, that [God] who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion... (Phil. 1:6).”
I’m on a journey. I walk it day by day, sometimes two steps forward, sometimes a few steps backwards. But I’m still walking in and with God. I am reminded of the ringing truths spoken by an old, salty recovering alcoholic friend of mine who said to me after one particularly trying day, “God loves the man that I am today; but God loves me too much to let me stay this way.” Amen.