Philippians 2: 12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
This is my same old coat
And my same old shoes
I was the same old me
With the same old blues
Then you touched my life
Just by holding my hand
Now I look in the mirror
And see a brand new girl
I got a brand new walk
A brand new smile
Since I met you baby
I got a brand new style
“Brand New Me” by Kenneth Gamble, Theresa Bell, and Jerry Butler
When I thought more about my last post – the whole business about our relationship with God depending on our own honesty, our willingness to recognize and let go of the delusions that we’ve created to protect our own egos – I thought maybe I had made things appear like “Okay, you’re saved, but I’m not having any more to do with you until you get it all cleaned up here. No more light and no more word from Me until you get your act together.” I didn’t really say that in the post, but, nonetheless, today I want to actively disabuse any reader of any such notion.
The honesty on our part that is essential to a growing relationship with God is not some bar that God wants to see us jump over before He rewards us with His presence. Rather, our dishonesty – our false face – is at bottom a withholding of our true self. This, of course, is a profound impediment to any real relationship. But even here, God initiates, provides and empowers. This taking off the mask and the drawing out of our true, vulnerable self is also the work of God. He will not override our personality and our coming clean involves the exercise of our own will, but God provides the means and the energy.
As I thought this over, I remembered a passage in Rod Dreher’s wonderful book How Dante Can Save Your Life. What I remembered, unaided by a review of the book or my notes from the book, was his recounting of his years of living according to the sexual morays of the modern, secular world. In other words, of his being promiscuous.
When he began his relationship with God, he started to understand that what he’d been doing was wrong and he embraced – though not perfectly, at first – the discipline of chastity. It’s a beautiful story, all in all, and he tells how this resolution – this effort – wrought changes in his life and outlook that prepared him to meet and then wed the love of his life. His “coming clean” prepared him for a relationship – made entering in to that rewarding and fulfilling relationship possible for him.
Yep. I was going to talk about all of that. But when I went back to Rod’s book, and particularly to my kindle notes and highlights, I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s not that there is something here or there in the book about opening ourselves to God. The whole book is about that very thing. I said earlier, quoting Donald Miller, that everyone has a story to tell and it’s not the one they’re telling. But in Rod Dreher’s case – in this book at any rate – he’s coming very close, I think, to telling his true story. Close enough to make the book a captivating and worthwhile read.