In study this week, the scripture that came alive was 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. It is a familiar verse and from time to time has been a solace when I fall short, a reminder that God is not done with me yet. Overall, I had pictured transformed glory to be linear rather than cumulative—a next step of glory (horizontal) rather than glory on top of glory (vertical), more akin to marks on a ruler than the filling of a vessel.
Looking back on a journal entry from years ago, it became even clearer. I remembered writing it and the circumstances surrounding life at the time, but reading this scripture again—on the other side of a glory-transforming event—I “got it.” I am so grateful for fresh revelation!
Metaphorical journal entry about a painful season in 2003:
We walked together in a dense and tangled forest. The path was unfamiliar and difficult to maneuver. Everywhere I looked the vegetation was overgrown, making it impossible to see much further than just a few steps. This wasn’t a couple of friends out for a stroll. It was clear I would have to depend on my Guide if I had any hope of making my way through. There was only one way to transverse this labyrinth called grief. No byways, no shortcuts, it would require everything I had, and more.
At times, He held my hand to stabilize my footing or pull me up an incline. Other times, He picked me up and carried me over fallen trees or across raging waterways. He was always sure-footed, confident, caring. Along the way, we would look into streams as we bent down to drink. I fixed my eyes on His reflection, noticing how beautiful and refreshed He always was, and how tear-stained my face would be, weary, heavy, and aged.
It was hard to keep going with no end in sight, all I could feel was pain. I often felt so fatigued from pushing branches aside or crossing ravines that all I could think about was how I just wanted to be done. I trusted my Guide, but I had to lift my own legs to walk. Judging its fairness or questioning how I got here made no difference to the briers or rocky slopes. The only thing dangerous about this footpath was resting too long in one place. Though He never pushed, there was an ever-present readiness to move along when I was willing.
After one treacherous storm that seemed to add insult to injury, the course began to widen and level out just a bit. Our impetus to keep moving through the discouraging wind and rain took us farther than I had even dared to hope. With each step my legs were stronger, the terrain easier to anticipate. Toward the conclusion of this pilgrimage, we rested beside a clear and peaceful pool of water. As we knelt to cup the water in our hands, I was amazed to see how my reflection had changed. No longer wearied and worn, it was mysteriously more like His—permeated with His glory and beauty. The water even looked different. It was then I realized the refreshing streams from which I drank during this long and painful trial, were Himself—renewing, life-giving, transforming.