A fellow blogger, Kari, who lives in Senegal, commented on my recent post about the glory with which God has endowed us all, and reminded me of this amazing quote from C.S. Lewis' The Weight of Glory:
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously -- no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner -- no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment."
Lewis saw it too.
I've been thinking about glory a lot lately. I see it in everyone, all the time. But in most, it's masked, veiled, like the biggest most brilliant diamond you ever saw, wrapped in black cloth and hidden in a dark corner of a dusty closet you never go into anymore. So hidden that they have forgotten how to find it, and through the seige of life no longer even believe it is real. If I have any sense of calling in this life, it is to these people. I know what it is to live in the hollow disappointment of believing that you are less than you had hoped...that you are smaller and less significant than perhaps you could have become, if only you hadn't lost that something somewhere back there along the way. It was stolen, or broken, or maybe you abused it, not realizing what it was. But all that doesn't matter now. What matters is the result: You're flawed--fundamentally, irreparably. That's the reality you now accept as true. You'll never be all you might have been. And the best you can hope for is to fake it well, and find solace in the little loves with which you comfort yourself.
All of that, of course, is a lie--a veil of deception that distorts the eyes of both heart and mind, and holds us in a prison of our own false beliefs, our God-given glory veiled from view. But "whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (2 Corinthians 3:16). Only...it isn't, really--at least, not right away. And that's the problem we're scared to talk about, isn't it? We accept the Word of God is true, but it hasn't really worked for us the way we hoped. I first believed in Christ when I was a boy, but it wasn't until I was 28 that I first began to authentically recover my heart and experience the freedom of discovering from God who I really am. So what gives?
It's not as though the gospel failed me. It just took that long for me to become truly willing to fight to get my full heart back...by doing exactly what the next two verses in that passage command:
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
The Word of God isn't called a sword for nothing. If you want to be free, you have to pick it up and learn to fight for your own heart's freedom. There is no short cut for this, and it is exactly the way God has designed it.