I recently heard a pastor say, “God takes us from glory to glory. There’s glory, and there’s glory. But then there’s “to.” That “to” part. It’s the fine print of the Bible! But the whole Kingdom is built on it.” PREACH.
This particular season of my life feels like that “to” – a really slow and really long “to.”
I re-read my last blog post and legit considered deleting it because I’m having a difficult time today. Today, I definitely do not have faith – not even as small as a mustard seed. The other day, I ain’t gonna lie – I straight-up called God a liar. Of course, I repented (a few times). My head knows that God is good. My head knows that God loves me. My head knows that God is not a liar. My head knows which Bible verses to recite to counsel my soul. My head knows that I need to shift myself out of this funk. My head knows I will yet praise Him.
But, my heart. Oh, my heart. My heart does not believe. My heart does not feel any hope. My heart does not feel loved. My heart will not be counseled. My heart is in pain.
Honestly, I don’t understand why God has this annoying habit of making grandiose promises to people. Here you are, minding your own business, living your best life now, when God decides to appear to you in a vision, or in a dream, or in the flesh. Then, He proceeds to announce the grand plans He has for you, plans that span continents, generations, dimensions. Those plans weren’t even on your radar screen. Heck, you were just trying to settle down and live a normal life, raise a family and tend some sheep. Then, the Lord goes MIA for awhile. You wonder if you were imagining things. You wonder if your mind was playing tricks on you. But then, God reappears every so often to remind you that the dream is still alive. Days turn into months. Months turn into years. Years turn into decades. Then, maybe, finally, (hopefully?!) the dream becomes a reality.
I don’t understand why God bothers to announce His plans and His promises way before – way, way, way, way, way, waaaaay before – He ever plans to execute on them. Why doesn’t He just keep the secret to Himself and let me live my life?! Y’know, I was doing just fine before God decide to freakin’ plant all these ridiculous ideas in my head. I sometimes wonder – if I never had any of these dreams, these plans, these hopes, these ideas in my head, would I be struggling with discontent and dissatisfaction? Wouldn’t the quality of my life be so much better, wouldn’t my life be so much more peaceful, if God hadn’t started all this?
Christopher Nolan, you ain’t got nothing on inception. Y’know who the Academy Award goes to? GOD. God is the Jedi Master of all inception.
I often use the phrase “glory to glory” when I want to encourage someone (myself included). But, I often use it in the context of being taken from glory to glory – in other words, being taken or moved from one place or position to a better place or position. However, the Bible doesn’t actually say that. Rather, it says: “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 3:18]
When I was complaining bitterly to God the other day, I heard Him ask me two questions:
- Do you love me? (In other words, if I never come through on what I promised you, will you still love Me?)
- Do you love my people?
Seriously, God? I wanted to talk to You about hope deferred. I wanted to talk to You about faith, because your girl is struggling so You better lend me some more. I wanted You to give me a sign I’m on the right track – throw me a fleece, give me some dew, give me something! And, in true “I AM WHO I AM” fashion, You come at me with some questions. And suddenly I realized – Dangit, I’ve got it all wrong. Again.
The way I define “glory” is essentially the same way I define success. In my puny, finite human mind, I’m thinking God will take me from glory to glory by increasing me in position, place, promotion. I’m thinking influence, excellence, favor. I’m thinking blessings on blessings on blessings. I’m thinking of advancement and acceleration from one life stage to the next.
But, that’s not how the Bible defines glory.
The Bible says that we are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. Therefore, the transformation is a transformation of being, of likeness, of image – not of position or place. And what is “the same image?” God is interested in conforming me to His image. God is interested in conforming me into the likeness of Jesus, for “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” [Hebrews 1:3] This is how God defines His glory and this is how God “takes” us from glory to glory – that I would yield and, therefore, be transformed into the same image, the image of His Son, from glory to glory. That I would yield and be transformed into the image of Jesus, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Philippians 2:6-8] That I would yield and be transformed into the image of Jesus, gentle and humble in heart. [Matthew 11:29] That I would yield and be transformed into the image of Jesus, who had “no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him,” who was “despised and forsaken of men.” [Isaiah 53:2-3] That I would yield and be transformed into the image of Jesus, who asked Peter to feed His sheep, who washed the feet of His disciples, who makes intercession for all of us even now, who is the conquering Lion of Judah but also the Lamb that was slain, who makes it impossible for us to be separated from the love of God.
So between here and there, between now and then, between the promise and the palace, as the pastor I quoted earlier said, this is the “to” stuff, this is the is “to” stuff that the Kingdom is built on. God is able and God is willing to come through on His promises. He is faithful – it is His nature, He cannot deny Himself. So, because of who He is, I need not concern myself with the when and how. All I need to concern myself with is yielding to this journey of being transformed into His image from glory to glory. All I need to concern myself with is allowing Him to teach me how to love Him and love others.
God, thank You for bringing me back to the stuff that matters, the stuff that is eternal. Thank You for shepherding my heart and my soul back to green pasture, back to the well that never runs dry. Even though the road is narrow and the road is long, I remember that it is one that leads to You.