As I drove to the park today (marveling at how our weather patterns can be, well, so patterned, back and forth like the zigging and zagging of the stitching in a dress), I noticed some daffodils growing beside a mailbox on a back road. And though a carefully examined patch of yard might not testify to its imminent arrival, spring is coming, and splashes of green pushing up in pastures and fields declare it over and over again. Spring is God's anthem of redemption. Every gentle breeze, each proud new blade of grass, the dizzying scent of a hyacinth bloom - all of it singing a song of promise. And today, as I drove, I realized: if my God does not forget to orchestrate all these things, in fact purposefully sets them into motion again and again, year after year, then who am I to worry? Who am I to question?
I must borrow from my pastor now. Two days ago, I listened to him speak about sanctification. His definition of it seemed rather clumsy to me at first; almost too much to digest. To paraphrase: "Gradually becoming what we already are and what we're meant to be." What? It felt word-heavy, as though it would topple under its own verbosity. But in essence, what he was saying about sanctification was that it's both a one-time thing and an ongoing process. We have a maple tree in our yard that wears each season boldly on its branches. In the summer, it's vibrant and lush. In the fall, its leaves begin to crumple and crisp, turning bright shades of reds and golds. Winter strips it of any and all signs of life. But spring. Spring comes and never has that tree looked so glorious. Green, yes, and on its way to vibrance and fullness. But still new, still young. still just dappled with color. Spring is that first, early morning yawn of summer. Spring is pristine restraint to summer's tawdry decadence. My tree seems to stretch its weary limbs up against the bluing sky and reach out for life again. Always the same tree - never the same tree. It, like me, is in a continual state of transition.
If you believe in Jesus, you are like that tree. You, too, are changing. Perhaps not in drastic leaps and bounds, not all at once, but the change is inevitable. It is not by choice but by His spirit. Sanctification is a difficult word. Maybe it's easier to digest when you think of it as this: being the you He intended you to be. Not in a you kind of way. But in a Jesus kind of way. After all, you were made in His image. Sin has stripped us of that, has made us prisoners to something other than what we were called to. But salvation sets in motion a metamorphosis, a hearkening back to what was the original design.
First we are set free from the penalty of sin - hallelujah! I, like the church at Corinth, have been "called to be holy" (I Cor. 1:2). My sanctification is immediate. But it's also ongoing. With each day that I remain on earth, a battle will be waged to keep me free from sin's power. I must keep awake so that I can resist the temptation to drift off into apathy. I will feel the transformation, slowly but surely, as I become more like Him, "from one degree of glory to another" (II Cor. 3:18). Always the same girl - never the same girl. If I am a believer, if I am walking with Jesus, walking in true relationship with Him, my growth will never stop. Just as my maple tree is constantly changing, even if not to the naked eye, I, too, cannot help but be constantly changed, as well. It is not choice. It is inevitable. When we finally reach eternity, however that door may be opened before us, we that are believers will be done. The transition will be complete. Emerging from the fog that was our understanding now, we will be perfectly holy. Just as He intended. "We will be like Him" (I John 3:2), free from the presence of sin. There will be no more death, or tears, or pain.
He is making all things new. It is immediate, and ongoing. He was, and is, and is to come! There is an end to this story. There is a purpose. And there is a calm behind the chaos. He is making all things new. It is happening in you who believe, and He is urging you on in the metamorphosis of the world around you. Breathe in and know: change is coming.