Thursday, May 2, 2013

THE INEVITABILITY OF SANCTIFICATION

We know what abundant life looks like; we’ve seen in it others, we’ve tasted it ourselves. A striving life is a joy-filled life, and it is only when we pick up our cross and follow Him that heaviness lifts. We know that the grueling work of putting to death those sins which we so cherish is the pathway to freedom, to abundance. But still, we look within and there is much yet withered and lifeless. We doubt not that He has made us new in Christ, it’s just that sometimes the new bears such striking resemblance to the old.

 
In Toronto this has been the week when the color of life has changed. We have been watching closely, knowing it was coming. A few days ago buds were forming on the trees, and branches, though still brown, had subtly changed shape as bud concealed blossom. Every spring, though expectant, there is always the delight of one day waking up, looking out, and life has changed color.

What yesterday was barren is today fresh, green, flowering, altogether new.

I was commenting to a neighborhood friend that even though I always know spring is coming and the process has begun, it always seems so sudden when the landscape changes and, one day, the trees are adorned in flowering buds. “Well,” my friend mused, “it was never a question of if, it was always a question of when.

My mind replayed her words. It was never a question of if, it was always a question of when.

For the tree planted, rooted, and alive, new life is never a question of if, it is always a question of when. New life is inevitable. Change is inevitable. It’s inevitable that spring will blossom no matter how long the winter has been.

Where there is life, where there are living roots, there will be growth.

We may grow weary. We may see patterns of sin that tempt us to lose hope. We may lift empty, calloused hands and cry with hollow voice, “When will you do this work in me? When will you give me the grace to live as I ought to live, to think as I ought to think, to love as I ought to love? When, Lord?”

His answer, startling clear: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

I’ve been made new in Christ. I’ve been planted by streams of living water. My roots are growing deep into God’s love. Because of all this, putting sin to death and growing in grace is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

The process of sanctification is one that can seem, at times, imperceptible. There are seasons--or sins--where the cold, gray of winter shuts out the warmth and light of the Son and all we know is the same bleak repetition of failure, of apathy, of sin.

What grace and tremendous hope is found in His promise to complete in us what He has begun. What grace to know that sanctification is inevitable and that, in Him, we will surely see change and growth and new life. 

And what grace, too, that He chose to fill this world with beautiful illustrations of His promise.
But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!” ~ Psalm 92