Last night, as my oldest and I were snuggling and debriefing, we talked about a propensity she has to get mad at herself when she starts making mistakes. I told her she had to learn to curb that, especially in a team situation. She replied that that was who she was; and she couldn’t fix it, no matter what. It was part of her personality, even though she didn’t like it.
So we talked about that issue a bit, and I mentioned that last year she was way worse than she was this year. This year she rarely broke down; last year she did quite frequently. So even though the struggle is still there, it has minimized. And there’s no reason not to expect it to continue to get better, with God’s help.
It’s like that verse in Romans 8:29: we are being transformed into the likeness of His Son. It doesn’t say we ARE transformed; it says we are BEING trasnformed. We’re not perfect, but we’re moving in that direction.
That’s one reason why I think God often sees us in terms of arrows rather than pinpoints on a map. If you remember your senior high school algebra, we’re vectors, we’re not points. We’re people with a direction and a momentum, not with a static place in the circle of what it means to be saved. And what God is concerned about is whether or not we’re moving closer to the centre of the circle, not where we are within that circle. He’s happier with a person who is barely inside the circle who is moving towards the centre than with someone who is close to the centre but moving away.
Take a woman who is exploring faith, for instance. She knows she needs God. She’s starting to pray. She’s questioning the major things in her life. But she’s still living with her boyfriend; she still swears; she still gets drunk occasionally. But she’s seriously searching.
Isn’t God more pleased and excited about her than He is with a woman who is married, with kids, who has known Him for years, but who gets her entire Christian identity from going to church? She rarely prays, can’t remember when she last read Scripture, is judgmental in her heart, and is often short and frustrated with everyone around her. She’s not demonstrating grace or love; she’s coasting on being a Christian for decades. She figures she’s safe, so she just doesn’t think much about God in her daily life.
I wish we could stop thinking of people as points on the circle of salvation and instead think of people as arrows, as I think God does. Often we dismiss those outside the circle, thinking they’re hopeless, because their lives look so wrong to us. But if their hearts are searching, they’re moving towards God. But we think we are safe just because we identify with God, without actually trying to be transformed at all.
I’m not talking salvation; that’s a separate issue and far too deep theologically for me after the big weekend I’ve had. I’m just saying that I think we need to be ask ourselves, are we moving closer to God, or away from Him? I can look at my daughter and see the changes that God has done in her over the last year, even if she can’t see them herself. I can see how she’s maturing in Him, and how she prays, and I can see how she’s working out difficult issues of faith. I’m proud of her. Is she perfect? No, but neither are any of us. But at least she’s aware of that, and wants to continue to move in that direction, now that she sees that God is changing her.
But God doesn’t change us unless we open ourselves up to Him. We can’t rest on our laurels, assuming that we have arrived. I know I will never be perfect this side of heaven. I can see all the things I don’t like about myself. But I think God cares more about whether I’m growing in Him than whether those things are there. I don’t think He wants me to beat myself up as much as He wants me just to continue to seek Him out.
So which way are you going? Towards Him, or away from Him? What trajectory are you on? Even if you don’t look like the “typical” Christian woman, that doesn’t matter one bit. The main thing is whether you’re starting to look more like Jesus. That’s what God cares about, and it’s what we should be concerned about, too