Mirror, Mirror

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. // II Corinthians‬ ‭3‬:‭18‬ NKJV

I stumbled upon the above verse the other night, I’m sure I’ve read it before but it never stood out to me. This led to some curiosity about being “mirrors of glory”. God IS glory, and as humans we can only experience some of that glory here on earth only when we get to heaven will we experience God in the fullness of His glory.  Honestly I don’t think that we could even handle it in our human form.  But the thing is, the closer we get to God the more of His glory we can experience on this earth.

We as Christians are called to reflect the Glory of God like a mirror.  But the thing about mirrors is that they can only reflect objects in front of them, and the closer the object the better the reflection.  Just as dirty or cracked mirrors can distort the reflection of an object there are things in our life that can hinder our testimony.  Whether it’s sin, our past, pride, etc.  we have to be aware of things hindering us from God.  And the closer we get to God, the more and more like Him we become.  As He increases, we decrease.

Also in order to see a reflection you need light,  a mirror will not do it’s job in the dark.  I love this analogy because I believe it says a lot about our spirituality. In order to reflect God, we need the light of Salvation through Jesus Christ.  If we are still living in darkness there can’t be a reflection. “God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all“, 1 John 1:5.  In order for a mirror to reflect light it must first accept light.

Secondly we have to be made pure and clean through repentance, and allow God to repair and restore us.  With true repentance comes change, when we repent we turn away from our sins and our past.  Heart change occurs and we change inside out.

And lastly, we have to draw near to God.  The closer we get to God the more of Him we reflect.  When you are in love every aspect of your life revolves around that person, your thoughts, your actions, decisions, desires, etc.  The same is true when we fall in love with God!

What produces God’s glory in our lives?  Just like a mirror cannot produce an image  we as humans can not produce God’s glory in our lives. Nothing we do or possess has this power, not our good works, not our holiness, not our morals, not the church we attend, nothing.  The only thing that produces God’s glory in our lives is closeness to God.  A mirror cannot reflect what it cannot see.  Putting God first is the key, my attempts will always fall short, my eyes have to remain on God.  I saw a quote that read : “It is the look that saves, but it is the gaze that sanctifies”.  Initially all we have to do is look to Christ for salvation, but it is the continued focus on Christ that brings glory, and freedom into our lives.  There is no shortcut, this is a lifelong journey, and a choice that we have to make on a daily basis.

What hinders God’s glory in our lives?  Usually what stands between us and God’s glory is ourselves.  If our eyes are continually focused on ourselves we will only reflect ourselves.  We can get so easily caught up our little world and the world around us that we take our eyes off of God.  Then we replace Him with ourselves,  and you were never meant to hold that type of responsibility.  You will get stressed, worn out and your life will reflect the chaotic mess that you’ve now found yourself in.  As mirrors of God’s glory, our job is to reflect the goodness that God has given us, not the crazy mess we’ve made for ourselves.  So the first step to reflection is removing ourselves and replacing it with Him.

‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” // Haggai 2:9

The closer we get to God the greater the glory we will experience.  Looking to God in prayer and through His word begins the transformation process in our lives.  You can not get close to God and not change.  The closer we get to Him the more like Him we will become.  This requires action on our part though, we have to talk with Him in prayer, seek answers in His word and worship Him with our actions. James 1:23-24 says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”  Knowledge is worthless without actions. Human relationships don’t happen over night, and neither will our relationship with God.  If you seek Him out He will meet you where you are, but don’t expect to stay there.  We have to be willing to move in order to experience all that God has for us!

“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” // John 14:21

The closer I get to God the less of me there is and the more room I give Him to move in my life.  Won’t you shift your gaze with me today, and everyday?  The only thing stopping you is you.  We can continue to reflect the mess we’ve made or we can let our glorious Lord shine through us.  You’ll feel a difference and the people around you will see a difference.  Let His light shine through you, let His love cleanse you and draw near to His loving embrace.  He hasn’t moved, He’s been waiting all along, just get closer dear friends!

For{Give}ness

i wanted so badly, somebody other than me, staring back at me, but you were gone...gone...gone. - time and time again. counting crows

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of teachings and discussions about relationships, not just romantic ones but friendships as well.  This has caused  me to take a look at a lot  of my relationships both past and present.  The thing about relationships is that they don’t always go the way we’d like them to.  A common reoccurring theme in mine was forgiveness.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a huge fan of that word.  Because sometimes a simple “I’m sorry”  just isn’t good enough.  Or worse yet the apologies I never got but so desperately deserved.  And yet despite this I’m expected to just forgive and pretend like it never happened? Cool.

But then you have the opposite choice.  Unforgiveness.  I heard a quote once that said that “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.  Chances are that the person who wronged you is living their life with little or no concern about how much they hurt you.  Maybe they said “sorry” and put it all behind them or maybe they didn’t apologize.  Maybe they are oblivious to the fact that they hurt you or maybe they think that they were somehow right in doing so.  Only God knows their true motives, but that doesn’t help the hurt that we feel.

It’s good to feel, it means you’re human, it means you have a heart.  What isn’t good however is when we continue to feel those feelings over a long period of time or even a lifetime.

At that point the only person you are hurting is yourself.  So by all means embrace the hurt, feel, have a nice cry (or scream), vent to someone, etc.  But when that’s over with pick yourself off the floor, wipe your eyes,  forgive and move forward.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but it has to be done.  Do it for yourself!

“But you don’t understand they messed up big time, I can’t forgive them!  They don’t deserve my forgiveness!”  As if your forgiveness is some holy grail, some hidden treasure reserved only for those who you deem worthy.  

Let’s be real here, you are by birth a sinner.  So am I.  Are you familiar with what a sinner deserves?  According to Romans 6: 23, the wages of sin are death.  That’s what we deserve, death.  But God by His magnificent grace picked you up out of your mess, made you His son/daughter and forgave you of everything you had done and will ever do.  He forgave for you for things you haven’t even done yet!  You didn’t deserve it, you will never deserve it.  But aren’t you glad that God didn’t withhold His forgiveness from your unworthiness.

People like to talk a lot about Grace.  I like to talk about grace, it blows my mind every time I think about it.  We can write about grace, read about grace, shout it from the rooftops, make excuses about our behavior, etc. all day long.  But yet we refuse to bestow that same grace to those around us?  We say “yes, I did terrible things and God forgave me, but I can’t forgive them for what they did, they don’t deserve it.”  Grace which was given to us freely is then locked away and the key thrown away.  We assume the place of God in our lives and decide who gets grace and who doesn’t.  That’s a scary thought, when we try to replace God because somehow we think that we know better.  I’m sure glad that God doesn’t pick and choose who He forgives, because a lot of us probably wouldn’t make the cut.  Because who of us is even worthy?  Romans 3:10 says “No one is righteous–not even one.”  Hmmm…it doesn’t sound like anyone is making the cut.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” // Matthew 6:15

Ouch!  Those aren’t my words those are from the Bible.  Forgiveness isn’t an optional guideline, it’s a way of life.  In order to be forgiven we have to forgive.  Grace is free, yes, but it doesn’t end there.   It is to be re-gifted not locked away.  God has forgiven us of so much, but we in turn must forgive others.  People are going to hurt you, they are going to let you down, they’re human.  We live in a fallen world, full of sin and pain.  The question is what are you going to do with the grace that He has given you.  There is no freedom like forgiving the apologies that you never got, and unclenching the blade that we’ve held onto for so long.  Sometimes that’s all you can do, just open your hand and hand it over to God.  Quit carrying a burden that you weren’t meant to bear, if you were meant to bear it you would’ve been on that cross instead.

The process isn’t always an easy one, it will most likely take more than 24 hours.  Depending on the level of hurt it could take months or more.  But you have to start today!  The longer you wait, the lest likely you are to do it, and the worse you hurt yourself.  So make the choice to forgive,  and ask your heavenly Father to take the burden from you, Psalm 55:22 “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”

Will that relationship be restored?  Maybe, maybe not.  You are only responsible for how you handle the situation.  Forgiveness doesn’t always equal restoration.  Some relationships are toxic and better left where they are, but forgiveness is essential to you moving on and forming healthy relationships.  If we continue to carry the emotional baggage from each relationship into all of our new relationships we will continue to unpack those bags and continue the cycle.  So leave the baggage behind, do not ask other people to pay the price for the pain that someone else has caused you.  It will only hurt them and you will be left all alone each and every time.  We weren’t made to carry the burdens of others, in fact we weren’t even meant to carry our own burdens, that’s why we have Jesus.  Don’t expect from other people what only God can give.

So make the choice to forgive, unpack the baggage and walk away empty handed into your new relationships.  That’s the only way that they will work and you can avoid vicious cycle of failed or unhealthy relationships.

Forgiveness is a free gift, and must in turn be given freely.  I pray that somehow this will touch your heart, and open your eyes.  It’s not always easy but the freedom you will feel in the end is incredible.

Colossians 3:13 NIV// Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.