The weight of Glory

My mission this summer is, as most of you know, to grow.  This growth isn’t a growth of my mind only, although I am inclined toward academia/intellectualism; it isn’t a growth of just my experiences, although I am trying new things; it is NOT meant as a growth of my body, although I do cook with a lot of butter!  As a 23-year-old in an awkward in-between phase of life (post-marriage/pre-baby), I feel like I have a good handle on most of the things I do.  I haven’t yet experienced the utter shock of my ignorance in many areas, like parenting or managing a full household.  Instead, my identity is largely based on what I do know how to do.  Little slips of paper (aka diplomas) that I keep forgetting to put into their fancy holders tell me I’m pretty knowledgeable about writing and teaching.  I know some other things, too.  But the main focus of my growth is to grow into the image of my Lord and savior, Jesus.  I want to be like him and I want to be freed by him. Why take on new things?  So I can relearn the steps by which we start, and begin to get somewhere, all leaning on Christ’s strength to get me there.

This post is long.  It is meant as an encouragement. But be warned that those of you who aren’t “encouraged,” per se, might be offended. Please let yourself be offended for a moment — I love you and I think you’re worth offending. (Or you might think I’m crazy, or you might cluck your tongue at me for being so naive and unenlightened.)  Onward.

Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Eric and I listened to a wonderful John Piper sermon on Sunday because our church did an afternoon-evening event instead of the regular Sunday morning services, and we couldn’t attend.  The sermon (which can be found here) was an exposition of Romans 12:12,

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The command to be transformed by the renewing of our minds presupposes a condition — that the mind needs to be renewed, that it isn’t perfect. I know this is true about my mind. Over the years, people have tried to cure this with education, which I have plenty of — and in ways education has hurt more than it has helped.  After years and years of education, I am left anxious, trying to solve things I can’t solve, and, most harmfully, trying to do it all on my own.  Piper’s biblical diagnosis (and that of other theologians) is this: “The problem with our minds is not merely that we . . . don’t have all the information. The problem is that our minds . . . have a spirit, a bent, a mindset that is hostile to the absolute supremacy of God. Our minds are bent on not seeing God as infinitely more worthy of praise than we are, or the things we make or achieve.

Seeing God as worthy of praise at all starts with acknowledging that there is a God. The problem with arguing that God doesn’t exist is that people’s entire basis for believing this is completely logical.  Logic is a human construction, a box we use to make things make sense.  Undoubtedly people would agree that there exist ideas that defy logic.  And you only need one illogical thing to happen to make logic, as a structure and rule, fall apart.  If even one thing does not follow logical rules, logic cannot be the lens through which humans approach the world.  And yet they do. We have all heard tired arguments about the complexity of life and nature, or of random medical miracles.  If you haven’t, no excuses now:  here’s one.

I have a friend who was not supposed to have a second baby.  She had had one child with a very complicated pregnancy, and was told not to conceive.  Although she and her husband made every effort not to, she did conceive, and the baby began to grow. Mid-way through her pregnancy, her unborn son began to lose weight.  The doctors discovered that the placenta was attached to scar tissue on her uterus and was not receiving the proper nutrients.  She was put on bed-rest, praying for a miracle — but she also had a two-year-old daughter to tend to.  One day, she got up, and tripped and fell down a flight of stairs.  Terrified for her unborn baby, she went to the hospital as quickly as possible, thinking that the worst had happened.  Instead, the doctors performed tests and took images and told her that it appeared the fall had “knocked the placenta back in place” and the baby immediately began to receive nutrients.  He was born with some lung problems, but was otherwise healthy.  He’s two now.  Now, I know this isn’t your story — it isn’t even mine.  But to anyone who attempts to explain this and the innumerable other accounts of the miraculous coming down into everyday life according to logic, or who tries to explain away their significance, their impossibility — to you I say, you are an arrogant fool like I once was.

At times in my life I have attempted to view the world completely logically, to marvel at human accomplishment like it is the end.  This makes sense — the self-glorifying mindset that thinks a man-made mental construct is the be-all and end-all of though and experience would, of course, also elevate man’s accomplishments.  Isn’t it sad how quickly even believers fall into this category because of our “bent”?  I am amazed by the heights humans can jump, the speeds they can run, the unfathomable genius of great minds throughout history, the buildings we build and the accomplishments we prize.  Yet these abilities and achievements are only a shadow of God’s glory.  God, who created not only the people whose bodies perform these feats, but who formed our desire for glory, for transcendence, for being part of something big.

Piper’s simple prescription for a renewed mind that results in transformation?  Marvel at God’s glory. Don’t overlook the miraculous in life. Pray that I will be enabled to really see the glory of God — to not write it off to nature or hard work and human discipline or fluke. Not to get used to it — which is easy to do even here in the Pacific Northwest, one of the prettiest, most amazing places in the world!  If I do not do this, I am just like the unbelievers whom Satan has “blinded . . . to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,” the good news that transforms my life.

Lately, spending time just meditating on God’s greatness is the only thing that gets me out of bed, about my work, motivated to serve, to be, to engage and react instead of retreating into my natural self-pitying, sad, and anxious state.  Admitting that is hard.  Getting up the energy to start something new, like running or growing plants, requires me to enter this child-like state of dependence.  I know nothing about running! I know nothing about plants!  So I can’t rely on myself to have the answers.  I am so thankful that during this period of trials in my life, of anxiety and awkwardness and fear about not knowing what’s to come, I can feel God working to transform me.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)


  • Stephen Murray

    You are a treasure, dear daughter.