April 8th, 2009
A friend of mine recently commented, with tears in their eyes and look of exhaustion, “I just want to feel alive” after a discussion about recent difficulties happening in life and general frustrations. This person’s feeling was that through the years, the only way of feeling alive was by doing things to emotionally or mentally ‘hurt’ themselves. Which clued me in to why so many people seem to do the same thing.
The following day I read this quote by Irenaeus “The glory of God is the human being fully alive. And the life of the human consists in beholding God.”
I shared the quote with this person, intending to spur the questions of what it means to be fully alive, how we define it, and how God defines it. What is beholding God? Many things come to mind, his glory being the main one, with a million implications coming of that.
As I wrote emails back and forth to another friend today about life, things we were learning, ways we were growing, etc, I realized I felt alive. More than I have in a while, and not just because the sun was shining and it made me happy. Or because I’d had a great day, or been able to use my gifts at work. Or because of a great laugh with friends, or a deep conversation, or a great moment with God, or any of the typical things that make me feel alive and well.
I realized on a deeper level that what I had been pondering over the past two weeks, I had begun experiencing the fruit of: what it means to live for Christ and eternity. How I have not been fully satisfied unless I am seeking Him, speaking of Him, sharing him with someone who doesn’t know Him, or spending my time well for His purposes. In a new way, my mind has been so wrapped up in God and been delighting more in Him despite the things around me. Things in a conversation that may have bothered me before, or a certain circumstance, did not bother me these past two weeks. My priorities shifted slightly, my outlook changed…because I was beholding God more than perhaps I ever have. My thoughts have been more consumed with him, his purposes my purposes, and my desires more aligned with His. I’ve often tried to get to this place, and prayed about it frequently. And now I’m getting to experience and taste some of that, and see how good it is.
I feel more alive, not because everything is perfect, or circumstances have improved, but because “to live is Christ” is starting to take on more meaning. And only through the power of the Holy Spirit…because the only thing I’ve changed is listening to sermons that have led me here. I cannot attribute any of this change to me, it is all God’s work within my heart.
In beholding God, I’ve seen more of his goodness and found a passion to share it. I think it is in that, and in fulfilling what he made me to do (make his glory known), that I have come to experience more of ‘the abundant life’.
I must acknowledge in this, however, that my life circumstances are good. I fear and pray about the fact that perhaps I feel some of this deeper joy because I’m not exactly being tested. I have a job, I feel secure, I have my health, good relationships, hope, and peace. I would be lying to say those things don’t matter, that somewhere deep down I’m not relying on my good circumstances. I can’t be sure, because I’m not really being tested by fire. But I hope in this time that it’s preparing me for any future refining and that I will be able to echo Paul’s feelings of knowing how to be content with all things or with nothing. That in living the ‘good life’ I would empty myself of all that is not of Him and give all of my blessings to be a blessing to others. And that in times of ‘nothing’ that I would cling to him to fill me up and carry me through with the same passion for sharing his glory with those who don’t know.
Odd, how truly feeling alive means a disinterest in this life, a death to self and a state of discontentment with the status quo. How beholding God is seeing through the things around me and being uncomfortable with the comfortable me, and finding life in treasures not of this world.