Knowing God and being formed into the image of His Son is a progressive work within each person that requires a partnership between God and man. The partnership is a formula of revelation and impartation from God, mingled with surrender and seeking on the part of man. We offer ourselves up and He reveals Himself. The revelation and impartations of God take us ever further into calling and purpose. We become more like Jesus so we can minister and live more like Jesus. We minister and live more like Jesus so we can see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. This is the ongoing process of spiritual formation. But is it really that simple and that easy? Well, not really.
The depths of God must be revealed incrementally. Not because He's slow, but because we can only handle the increments. You see, the road to depth in God, and the road of true spiritual transformation is paved with great difficulty. Like the road to the cross for Jesus, your road to depth in Jesus is a mirror of the stations of the cross. The road to Calvary took one difficult step after another. The nails of Calvary were driven one at a time. The cruelty of Calvary could only be endured one act at a time. The death of Jesus to Himself that was decided in the garden of Gethsemane played out step-by-step, not all-at-once.
As bearers of the cross of Jesus, and bearers of the image of Jesus, we are formed in the same way. The road of our cross-bearing is paved with difficult moments that lead us to resurrection victory. We identify more with Christ in each difficulty and we understand the Father more fully with each encounter. Deciding to follow Jesus calls us to our own death-to-self that must be played out one step ... one nail at a time.
If you and I would say to Jesus, "Reveal to me more of Your Heart ... more of Your likeness ... more of Your glory," then we are, in essence, saying, "Lead me through the stations of my own cross-carrying." No servant is greater than his Master (John 13:16) and we are not exempt from difficulty because of identifying with Jesus. In fact, the followers of Jesus must become like Him in His death (Philippians 3:10).
Job 42:5-6 NIV My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. (6) Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."
Job discovered the path to greater depth in God by enduring much pain and agony. The pain caused a disruption in his mind that drove him directly into an encounter with God. The encounter with God brought Job to the heights of human experience in God even though he was in the depths of human suffering. That height was hearing the voice of God Himself as a Teacher... a Teacher who revealed more of Himself to Job. Job responds in kind by saying what I believe is the most profound confession in the whole story: "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You." The formation of Job on his road to depth was paved with difficulty. In the end, he saw God.
Like it or not, comfort and ease are never the true friends of the Christian. They are deceitful and entice us from true spiritual growth. The compassion of God is discovered in human difficulty. The resurrection power of God is found in human death. The voice of God is heard in the midst of deafness. The love of God is brighter in the midst of human hatred. The healing of God is found among illness and disease.
Incrementally, one step and one nail at a time, you and I are being formed into the likeness of Jesus. Our path is paved with difficulty and glory intermingled into an experience that is only understood by those truly walking it. I pray revelation and impartation from the Father for you today, and that you and I join Job in saying, "now my eyes have seen you."
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.