Beloved, NOW ARE WE
There is probably nothing more certain, at least in my life, that at pretty much all times, in the back of my mind, and with quite a bit of those times also in the forefront of my mind, that I have the suspicion that my life would be "better" or "different," if something I had done or said or thought or believed, had been different in some nebulous past that existed before this present moment. In other words, something is wrong in the present moment and it is my fault. And that pretty much applies to all moments, all times, every day.
At various times in my life I have tried various remedies.
I went through a time before I knew the Lord when meditation seemed to alleviate the condition, because I was certain there would be a progression, and at some point via meditation (and related activities) I would arrive at the experience of kensho, sunyatta, enlightenment, God-consciousness, grace, whatever you wanted to call it, and would know all things and be able to solve all my problems. Maybe do some miracles.
When I first decided to get serious about those things was when I found out I was going to be a father for the first time at age 21, and I thought I could maybe accelerate the enlightenment program, meditate a little extra maybe, so I could be enlightened by the time the child was born, and both find peace/holiness/salvation/enlightenment, and, become a great dad at the same time -- kill two birds with one stone. (Takes most people years, but I was hoping for 6 or 8 months, tops.)
Enlightenment was more elusive than I thought, however. And so was being a great dad.
Now that child is 31, and I still feel somewhat (but not quite) like Neil Young, "I've been a miner for a heart of gold, and I'm gettin' old. Keep me searchin' for that heart of gold."
Here's the thing. In ourselves, the way it's set up to work, is that we never get to see in the flesh the whole Spirit picture. So it keeps us on edge just a touch, because there is, and this is a BIG "thankfully" that there is, always a sense of not having "attained."
Why? To drive us continually to the Spirit, to continually supplant the visible temporal with the invisible Eternal, and to keep the creation hopping by its continual expansion.
Paul says we remain in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. No hope. So we still wait with anticipation for the fulness of our redemption. It's the drive whereby we propagate the life, extend the kingdom. For the hope that is not yet fully manifest, for the City still seen in a mist, for the final gathering of all the people of God from the four corners of the earth and all the times of the earth, we see the Beautiful City afar off in the midst, all Complete and Resplendent in the dirt and mire and strife and sweat and blood and hatred and cursing in the wrath that boils and seethes in the earth.
And we still seem like we're a part of all that dirt and mire and strife and sweat and blood and hatred and cursing. At least I do.
Good! We are exactly as we're meant to be.
The incarnation is God "coming down" out of heaven and being one of us, and the double-whammy of the incarnation is His further plan of reproducing the same life in us, so that we ourselves are the sons of God doing the Father's will, through His Spirit in us.
And since God had to come "down" out of heaven and be human in Christ Jesus, so do we. We have to be human.
And to be human means to feel death. It means to feel the quagmire, the catch-22, the contradiction, the fear and the hatred.
It means touching love in only a transitory way, because sadness can only come from love when it has no continuance, no permanence, and so human life has the most absolutely deepest sadness at its most inner core. Everybody everybody loves ends up in the graveyard.
That's why He was a "man of sorrows." The "curse" in Adam had desecrated the earth, desecrated the temple of God, and fear and sin lurked around every corner. He had "compassion on the multitude," for they were as sheep without a shepherd.
So now the "man of sorrows" is our inner man. And so we in the midst of our peace in Him find no rest without, because as He has laid on Him the iniquity of us all, even so are we taking into our bodies and minds the sufferings and joys of the world. There is no separation between ourselves and everybody else in it. Paul says when one member suffers we all suffer. The world suffers, and we in Christ suffer with it, and for it. We cannot even leave ourselves out of the guilt of the world. We dare not. If Christ, who sinned not, took the sin of the universe into Himself, and became it, then we, who have most certainly sinned, can only in Him continue His mission of reconciliation as truly sinners among sinners, wounded healers, yet by grace bruised in His purpose.
But the end of it is the reconciliation of all things.
And here's where we have two things always going on at once. All things ARE ALREADY reconciled. That's WHY we can declare it so in particular situations as we are led by the Spirit, because God's purposes and will from the beginning to the end are already written and already accomplished, and the fulness is in our midst and the incarnation is fully completely NOW.
And the other thing going on is that we still see through a glass darkly, and a city afar off. But that only makes the completion a bit misty, no less complete, and perfection no less perfection.
1 John 3:
2 Beloved, NOW are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Beloved, NOW ARE WE THE SONS OF GOD!
The point isn't whether you feel like it, is it?
As my beloved Norman so continuously and forthrightly said, "You ARE He!!!!"
Which leads me to what I wanted to finally say.
He does all. All. If "you" reserve something "you" have to do, you kill the whole grace thing.
Now, that's not a bad thing, reserving something maybe. It takes that, maybe over and over and over and over and over. Took the children of Israel a thousand years just to quit following Baal and at least try to keep to the temple laws. So if we have a bit of trouble with wanting to do it ourselves for a very long time in our lives, our times aren't in our hands anyway, but in His.
But we are sons who are being trained, and the final training is the course that puts you on the Lord Alone, where there is none but He, and there is no sustenance but He, and there is nothing else. The end result of that "course" is the final annihilation of any sense of self-effort of any kind. The lesson "if the Lord does not build the city, they labor in vain that build it," has proved to us by many practical lessons that "they that wait upon the Lord shall [honest injun] renew their strength, and they shall mount up with wings as eagles." It was just a song to me for a long time, but I'm starting to get it.
Here's what I'm starting to get. God is actually real! No really, no kidding, I really mean it! And all He does is give, and all we do is receive.
This isn't just "belief" we're talking about, or fairy-tales, or religion.
God is actually real. The stories are true. And what it finally all boils down to is that He does and IS it all, and everything that IS is a manifestation or expression of Himself, and does His will, and accomplishes His purposes.
And grace, which means a life GIVEN to you by the Lord Himself produced in us by God Himself, is available to anyone who hears the call, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Is 55:1)
Get that? You don't bring anything to the table to "buy" the waters and wine and milk of the Lord. Nada.