Slow Miracles Lead to Transformation

barbellContinued from here.

One reason we are on this earth is to transform into Christ’s image. Transformation does not happen quickly: by definition, transformation is a slow process. As you pray for your miracle, you might not see anything happening, but God is much less concerned with changing your circumstances than He is with changing YOU.

The lesson we all need to learn is that GOD’S WAY ACTUALLY WORKS. When we choose not to forgive those who wrong us, we are refusing the slow miracle of God’s healing. Our pain is not caused by the wrong that was done to us (although I know it feels that way). Instead, our pain is caused by our reaction to what was done. When we choose to think negatively about someone and feed the bitterness, we build our own emotional prisons. While God could miraculous tear down those prison walls for us, without transformation, we will simply build them right back up again. God tells us to forgive and to pray for our enemies, not because they deserve it but because that’s the door to opening the miracle of healing. How quickly or slowly that happens depends upon your willingness to live your life God’s way.

The same holds true for healing your marriage. Marriage only works God’s way, which involves humbling yourself by deferring your preferences to your spouse. Because you are one, the more you lash out in anger toward your spouse, the more wounds you inflict onto yourself. Conversely, when you defer your preferences to your spouse and honor him or her, you open the door to the slow miracle of healing your marriage. Many of God’s slow miracles are invited in by simply doing things God’s way.

While my preference at the time would have been quick miracles for healing the eating disorder, childhood pain, and marital woes, if I could go back in time and change this, I wouldn’t. Quick miracles would have only been temporary fixes because my disobedience to God’s ways would have simply placed me back in the same situation as before. The slow miracles transformed me so that I am no longer tempted to go back. I know how much effort was required to experience God’s miracles, and I refuse to return to the bondage from which God has freed me.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding a barbell above her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Eastern Orthodox Church: How to Transform into God’s Likeness

beautifulContinued from here.

Everything I write about the Eastern Orthodox Church in this blog series comes from Daniel B. Clendenin’s Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader. The transfiguration plays a huge role in Eastern Orthodox belief. Jesus showed the disciples what to work toward when he revealed to them who he actually was, enabling them to see the divinity in Jesus that most people did not see. Transfiguration is the goal not only of the individual but for all of creation!

Sin is something external that interferes with the transfiguration process, resulting in interference with attaining fullness of life. Through Jesus, God’s gift of grace enables immortality to unite with a fallen world, bringing the fallen world into union with God, which results in divine beauty … hence the emphasis on divine beauty in the Eastern Orthodox worship services. As Jesus was both fully God and fully human, he was/is the perfect union of humanity and divinity. Through Jesus, mankind can experience the same transfiguration as we transform into God’s likeness by degrees.

Interestingly, I have found a couple of verses–2 Cor. 3:18 and Gen. 5:1— in which the New International version appears to use the terms likeness and image interchangeably whereas the Eastern Orthodox translation (I have no idea what version of the Bible they use) does not. From the Eastern Orthodox perspective, image = God’s part (creating man with the capacity to choose harmony with God) and likeness = man’s part (choosing to enter into union with God).

The Eastern Orthodox church believes that transforming into God’s likeness requires choice. God gave man the capacity to transform into His image by creating him in His image. Man has the freedom to choose to do so or not. When man chooses to do so, he reverses the effects of the Fall, which not only delivers himself but also the universe from the disorder that resulted from the Fall.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling under the word, “Beautiful.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]