Is that from Casablanca? I forget, really, not exactly being an old movie buff. But lately I find myself thinking that much in my life bears repeating, like an old familiar song.
I always pictured the Christian life as being a journey from here to there, the goal being ascension towards Christ. If I drew it out, being a visual person, it might look something like stair steps. I’d place myself as a little stick figure somewhere along the continuum, hopefully moving upwards but in reality all too often moving backwards.
I think the image has morphed though, into more of a spiral. Instead of viewing the times I seem to struggle with the “same old thing” as backward mobility, I now see this as a natural part of life in Christ. I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t a few core sins all of us face along our journey, but each time we come around to them again, we’re at a different place. If we truly are being transformed into the image of Christ, then we’re not the same person we were last year, last month or even yesterday. Not that sin becomes less of a struggle, but as we live more deeply into grace, transformation becomes more of a reality and we face our struggles as different people.
Not only that, but a spiral represents an inward journey as well. It seems to be a dual reality, that the more we’re willing to face ourselves and know ourselves in the light of God’s grace, the more we know him. And the more we come to know Christ, the more we realize who we are in Christ. That’s why I think knowing ourselves – being at home with ourselves before God – is so important.
Think about it – a good parent will reserve the most serious discipline and training for inside the home. Why? At home, there are less distractions. At home, we’re not soccer players or cheerleaders or students; we’re just our parents’ children. At home, we come face to face with ourselves before our parents. The more we come to be at home with ourselves – accepting ourselves as beloved children of God – in spite of our brokenness – the more open we become to God’s transforming work. And from that place of security, he is growing us up to do his will.
Anyways – back to the spiral thing. I’m starting to realize there are some things I will encounter over and over again. Do I really need to hear another message on the spiritual disciplines? Do I need to read another book on grace? Another song on faith, hope or love? Must I be reminded again that God loves the world? That he is at work, right here and now? Yes, yes and yes! It’s like a ride on a roller coaster – I know what’s coming the third time around but by then I know how to position myself for that loop or dip. And I’m ready to say, “play it again, God!”