A new page.
Turning over a new leaf.
We use many terms that say essentially the same thing. Whatever lame or insufficient metaphor we choose to throw at the numinous mystery we call “life” sometimes offers its own prophetic tribute to the new reality to which it points. Sadly, there are times in my life where, upon deeper reflection, it comes to light just how dark I can be. Just when things begin to feel a bit more swept up and tidy, I find more nasty shards of the shiny mirror I misunderstood to be my life. A broken window is perhaps more accurate.
It is disconcerting at best, fractious and maddening at worst, when one is given a shocking awakening, at once freeing and burdensome; welcome, as it is unbidden. Such moments of epiphany, although rare, provide stark backdrop against which to see more clearly the indefinable truths by which we seek to live well. Just when there appears to be some small forward motion in the dangerous journey of formation, I am rudely reminded of the exponentially growing need for that very process. Although not entirely without joy or hope in bite-sized chunks, it reveals itself as the Law of Diminishing Returns.
Like the horizon, always moving at the same pace I am, coming to terms with my need for change and the slippery slope of progress toward it, never gets any closer. By definition, one never gets closer to the horizon (well, unless you are a theoretical physicist, existential nihilist, or Hallmark card). Beyond this one are countless others just the same. Only the scenery changes, never the distance. It will always be, in mystical (and, in my case, practical) terms at least, unreachable. What we can say definitively however is we have more miles on our spiritual odometers.
In the enigmatic, mostly squishy, process of sanctification, merely having more miles and less tread does not automatically make us wiser. It may only make us older and more run down, with less resale value. Even, at times, assigned to the ditch. It’s not in the miles alone. It’s in the degree to which we pay attention to whatever road is opening before us; wherever that road may be leading (if we can even know that much.)
“Are we there, yet?”
“How much farther?”
These are the kinds of questions we ask as juveniles who, lacking a mature ability to remain patient, merely await the destination. The journey itself is something to get through as quickly as possible. It is most unfortunate that this is where most contemporary evangelicalism has grown wearily stuck. We miss the largest part of the gospel in our frantic need for geographical clarity post mortem. We speak often of going to heaven but seldom of waiting for heaven in us.
That said, the relative safety afforded us in the knowledge of ultimate blessedness in Christ allows for colossal failure along the way. Our journey to the destination allows the richly ubiquitous love of God to drive us, lead us and await us on the journey “there.” And, what of “there” anyway? In the Christian enterprise are many “theres” and yet one “there.” In every case, our “arrival” is guaranteed by grace, at least in an ultimate sense. In kingdom terms, even if not yet real ones, we stand where we are, looking at ourselves at the edge of our own horizons.
We no longer need to fear whether we may miss where we’re going. That is secured by grace, once and always. Our many mini-arrivals, though, still met with grace, are less certain this side of heaven – whatever that is. But, in spite of the many ambiguities of, and forks in, the roads we’re given, it is always and forever our arising to those roads that, in themselves, become our horizon. As those greater than I like to say, we are both on the way and already there.
In the gospel, we become our own horizon.