February 06, 2014
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21:4
Every once in a while, I wonder why I’m still broken. I wonder why it is that I’m always about 5 minutes late for meetings and I’m not quite nailing the height of fashion trends and I’m not bringing people to Jesus with every grocery store encounter or visit to the bank. I start to get critical of myself, and the lack of put-togetherness I often feel. If I am honest, I wonder why it is that I haven’t “arrived” completely, entirely, and wholly at that glamorous, leadership-savvy, all-knowing state that all seminary grads feel like they need to arrive at.
Right about this point in my seminary career, I’m starting to feel the weight. I’m a year away from walking across the stage and being handed a piece of paper that represents all of the education that I’m currently receiving. I know that it’s not really time to panic, and that I still have 11 months or so to “get my act together,” but lately I’ve been noticing that I’m keeping myself from something vital to my spiritual well-being: grace.
Our salvation is a process. Romans 8:21 reminds us that one day we will find ourselves in a place of glorification and we will be complete. But we also have to remember that we are in the phase before that: the phase of sanctification, by which we are being made holy.
I am in desperate need of grace. I need to remind myself that it’s okay that I don’t have it all figured out. It’s okay that I’m not going into the “real world” of ministry totally prepared to lead the masses. It’s okay that I’m in the process of, well, sanctification.
Let me say it again: sanctification is a process.
I was reading through Genesis in January and I started to get a little antsy because I was biting off tiny little chunks, diving into them and loving it, but I soon found myself in that struggle of genealogies, trying to squeeze deep meanings out of them, one generation at a time. Finally, in a self-centered act of let-me-get-to-the-good-part Bible reading, I turned to Revelation 21. It’s the part where all of the mistakes and sins that I’d been reading about for those January days finally were redeemed.
No more tears, no more pain, no more sinners.
That’s right: there are no sinners in heaven. This was immediately alarming to me, as I often find myself whispering prayers of “have mercy on me—a sinner.” And we all love the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and…sinners. And now, after all of this, they aren’t allowed in heaven?
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I will no longer be a sinner.
What we feel now and what we fight through now and what we are overwhelmed by and blinded by now are the realities of our fallen world. We are drenched in sin. We have never known a world without death or tears or pain. And yet, it seems to me that one of the greatest, most profound parts of our salvation is one that I do not think about that often.
One day, our sanctification will be complete and glorification will take its place. So why is it, then, that I am living without grace for the process? Why is it that I am trying so hard to be glorified? Why is it that I am overlooking the reality of the process?
And so, right about this point in my seminary career, I’m starting to feel the weight. The weight of my sin and the weight of his mercy. The weight of my studies and the weight of a powerful understanding of who He is. The weight of sanctification. The weight of grace.
May you find yourself remembering that this season is one for sanctifying. It’s one for being made holy. May you deeply understand the fact that He is changing you and that it is okay to not really have everything figured out. And may you rejoice in the process—as painful as it can be—for when we lose our sense of self-righteous striving, we can finally surrender to the grace that will one day lead to glorification.
Thank You, Jesus.
Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
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