II Corinthians 4:16
“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
Today, I read an article by Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline. In it, he describes this verse as expressing tenacity, “we do not lose heart”; realism “outer nature is wasting away”; optimism “being renewed”; and progression “day by day.”
But the main emphasis and thrust of this passage focuses on the “invisible nature of the undertaking to which we are to give our lives.”
Lately, I have been frustrated with the idea of the hiddenness of God. The truth which I have been wrestling with is epitomized in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I have always believed in the fundamental truth and promise of this particular verse. I believe in the physics of it, the mechanics of it. In theory.
Yet it seems, the longer I live and the more I experience life and see of this world, the more I encounter confusion and complexity, with no specific voice, no writing on the wall, not even an inner voice. It’s been all process, internal revelation, a slow burning transformation that rarely finds its way to the surface. It seems no matter how hard I strive or surrender or even fail or abandon, I cannot seem to gain clarity on a specific path or vision, the way most others seem to.
And I know comparison is a dangerous game to play. I recognize the fallacy of such thinking.
But it seems that former dreams and visions and passions have shed their idealistic fervor and have been more or less placed on a spiritual back burner of cynicism and a reality check.
I often forget the invisible nature of this kingdom of which I am supposedly a part.
I forget that God is Spirit, and that His most intense, glorious and divine work is often done in the invisible–not the visible–realm.
I have to remember this on days when I feel like all my preparation and experience has come to nothing.
On days where dreams and visions that once seemed so vibrant seem to have been swallowed up in the culture and chaos and confusion of life.
When it seems that for all of my most valiant efforts (and also lack of any effort at all: I am guilty of both extremes), my own end goal is ultimately thwarted. This goal, poetically enough is often, unbeknownst to me, an attempt to control, rather than to surrender my own will and purposes.
Despite the constant call and command to manifest the life of Christ before us through love, community, service, I am compelled to now balance this manifestation with an understanding of an invisible, greater spiritual reality.
And it is this hiddenness of God that supposedly holds the greater blessing. This is what all the saints were commended for, as we read in Hebrews 11 and 12.
Richard Foster writes: “Faith involves an entering into the knowledge of the invisible, spiritual world and a living on the basis of that knowledge. And as we do this with regularity and persistence, we will discover that “our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
Though this does not necessarily grant me any more specific direction (with no proverbial light shed) in regard to career or vocation, this is enough to silence the pessimist in me at least for today, replacing my slip shod cynicism with minute amounts of hope and faith. And to also trust that ultimate reality–centered both on an invisible, all powerful Creator as well as a living, breathing, fleshed-out God Man–is some unique combination of both mystery and clarity.
While discussing my frustration with all of this yesterday, my good friend Chalis told me: “I wonder these things too, sometimes. And maybe I’ll wonder them until the end. Or maybe purpose just unfolds as we go, and God is more the one laying it out, instead of us nobly pursuing it.”
Perhaps the real journey simply lies in day-to-day pursuit of God and God alone-not even his gifts, blessings, or even purposes-just Him.
What Chalis said struck a chord with me deep within my soul because she reminded me that this trajectory of faith is neither a noble, idealistic pursuit, nor is it a resignation to cynicism and unbelief. It is simply a constant surrender, a laying into the wind of the Spirit to simply KNOW Him, to trust that relationship that He himself builds, initiates, and causes to grow.
I am now aiming to follow a trajectory of faith, rather than infinite resignation.