Killing me is hard.
Long, busy days flow over into time reserved for community and grace. I grow tired and angry and resist the opportunities to meet with others to show love, to be loved.
Without exception, doing battle with me is treacherous. It always seems most dangerous and inevitable after periods of peace and calm before the Lord. Seemingly out of nowhere the self wells in rebellion. That this follows such precious moments feels counterintuitive and yet perhaps that is the root, the logical initiation of the cycle: Growing up and in knowledge of this good and gracious King will only bring about change. We cannot help but be changed by time spent in His presence.
“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful,” Flannery O’Connor poignantly observed.
I know (head knowledge know) that Psalm 22, He has done it! He has accomplished His ultimate saving purpose and it is my day-to-day dealing with, well, me that undermines that knowledge. It is that painful change.
My daughter and my husband like to catch snakes. I have seen it many times. It most often involves a long stick or pole for pinning the animal’s head to the ground so they can carefully move in to grasp it and avoid a bite.
My sin nature that lies beneath looks a lot like that writhing snake body resisting capture, resisting being held, resisting being beheld. I am liable to bite. As a redeemed creation, how can that be? Perhaps because if I am fully seen, fully known, there is no hiding the ugly, slithering side of self.
Paul says something along those lines in 1 Corinthians 13. We have dim, not fully developed view of ourselves. Seeing Him face to face will reveal full knowledge. And “then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
I am already fully known despite my resistance, my lack of ability to trust His all-knowing love, His grace. I am already beheld and He has not turned away. And there that verse is smack in the middle of yes, love. It is the love chapter that soars with descriptions that most certainly look unattainable. Does any one really love without envy or arrogance or irritability or resentfulness? Does anyone really endure all things?
I do not.
This forces me to that dim mirror and to the killing of self. The hard and painful ache of change.
Reading through that entire chapter, I find joy in verse 9. “For we know in part and prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”
WHEN THE PERFECT COMES.
I could stop there and look fully, contentedly.
The answer is yes. It has to be. Yes, someone really loves without envy or arrogance or irritability or resentfulness. Someone has endured it all. That would be Him—the Perfect.
He has come and in His coming there was a treacherous battle. It was on a cross and the writhing, slithering snake of self was destroyed.
It wasn’t me that was killed. It was Him.
This makes my painful change not so painful anymore.
It makes learning to be beheld possible. It makes my resistance futile.
I am able to move back to peace and calm before God. I am able to behold Him who is perfect love. I am able to trust His gaze and the change it brings.