More important, I’m learning that time is an important and necessary ingredient in spiritual development. But such development is not automatic; one can become both old and crotchety. Kindness, gentleness, and patience are not necessarily the fruit of time. But when one walks with God, time is a factor in becoming Christlike. I can hardly remember when I was not a Christian. While my Christian life did have a beginning, I’m aware that the process of becoming Christlike is indeed a lengthy one. Such a process has not been the result of my trying hard to be the best person I can be, but instead it is the result of the grace of God.
Of course, there is a flip side to this. Think of the story in the book of Exodus. God promised his people a land of “milk and honey”—theirs for the taking. God wasn’t going to fly them in on United; they had to walk in themselves. Actually, they could have made the trip from Egypt to Canaan in about six weeks, but they fiddled around for about thirty years before they finally arrived. I haven’t quite figured out how much of this Christlike thing is God’s part and how much of it is mine. I am sure I haven’t developed into godliness as quickly and smoothly as I might have, but I’m certain God has been gracious in making me who I am by his grace.
I have made some discoveries along the way. I think I am less dogmatic about things and have fewer answers than I once had. I used to have opinions about everything and was sure my viewpoint was the right one. I’m learning that ambivalence is not a bad thing. Maybe it’s OK to wait for God to explain some things to me later. About one thing I’m sure: the death and resurrection of Jesus. The various theories about the “atonement” don’t really matter all that much. The cross is God’s means of reminding us that death is indeed the last enemy and that Jesus destroyed it once and for all. His bodily resurrection means I will not have to float around in heaven forever as a spirit. One day I too will enjoy a bodily resurrection and be able to live an active life with a newly restored body in a newly restored world with him.
Life is good—considering my age!