It was not the first time I had admired a vase made of burl wood sitting on the table against a wall in my counselor-friend’s living room. Rounded yet uneven, the vessel was sanded smooth to show the complexity of the grains and stood about 30 inches tall. No human hand had carved it out from within, it was created like that.
I thought how lovely something would look inside of it and finally asked, “Why do you always keep that vase empty?” My friend walked over to the table and turned the vase around. The other side was riddled with holes and crevices, rough and uneven. “See? I had to buy this when I saw it; I need a constant reminder of what I am and what this world is now until the redemption of all things. We are not yet whole, but it is coming.”
I wrestled with hating that vase and its broken beauty. We are at once smooth and retainable and at once knarled and hole-ridden. The tension we live in is the already-but-not-yet. But hope is real because gradually all is becoming more whole.
I know I am.
You see, becoming a confessed child of God does not end the reformation of our character into Christ-likeness; it only activates the process. Satan realizes this and still has preyed on believers through their old nature, working hard to prevent us from coming into the fullness of Christ’s character in our lives.
We reduce the Gospel when we promote that all is accomplished when we “pray the sinner’s prayer” when in fact all has just begun. Going from death to life implies growth (Eph. 4:15). Appropriating the shed blood of Jesus into every arena of our lives, both past and present is the process of sanctification, no matter how painful or humbling.
We are to partner with the Holy Spirit’s passion for making us whole and for displaying in our lives in ever-increasing and on-going measure the beauty, the power, and the mystery of redemption. We are to partner with the work he is doing in the lives of those we love all around us.
When we speak of “inner-healing,” this is what it really means. It has nothing to do with “trying to do better,” motivational pep-talks of recognizing my innate potential, acting as if our past holds no present influence in our lives now, being sure I attend church or more intake of facts and knowledge.
Information and participation that does not lead to transformation are useless. It’s just pious religiosity. And frankly, it is dull, lifeless and utterly devoid of the power of the resurrected Jesus and his Gospel. He desires salvation to be fully competent in all dimensions of our life and character.
Healing or better stated, sanctification, leads to wholeness. Wholeness leads to more of the glory of God in our lives. His majesty in our lives ushers in restoration. And this enables us to truly live in shalom: replacing or providing what is needed to make us whole and complete.
Thank you, Father, that you never let go of this process in my life. Thank you for that. You intend for my wholeness.