Restoring the Glory: God’s Glory and Our Story

This post is part of a series of my reflections on the Restoring the Glory Conference given by the John Paul II Healing Institute. You can find the introduction to this series here.

You are being transformed.

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.

2Corinthians 3:18

This is the verse that Dr. Bob uses to open this series of talks. It’s obviously one that is very near and dear to my own heart – this is the verse from which this blog gets its name. Dr. Bob pointed out something I had never paid much attention to in it, though, and that is one very small, but very powerful word: all.

St. Paul says that all of us are being transformed into the image of God. You see, healing is for everyone. Restoration is available to all of us, because all of us are broken and all of us have been wounded in one way or another. That stunningly beautiful girl with good grades, a cute boyfriend, and a fabulous wardrobe? She’s broken. Your sibling, the golden child, who seems to have it all together and never gets caught making a mistake? He’s broken. All of us experience the consequences of original sin differently, but no on on this earth escapes them entirely. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That includes you, my friend. Have you come to terms with that yet?

Even those of us who have surrendered our lives to Christ and received His forgiveness and healing know that we’re not fully what we were meant to be. Life in Christ doesn’t take that ache away – it explains it, takes the fear out of it, and redeems it, giving it meaning and purpose, but that ache is our common heritage as children of the fall. We’re all messed up. We’re all lepers and blind men in need of healing. There is tremendous freedom and peace that comes from admitting this, coming to terms with reality.

You are being transformed.

Notice the condition of transformation here. Who are those who are being made into the image of God? Those who work the hardest? Those who clean up their act and get their lives together? Those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Those who “help themselves” as the saying goes?

No. “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord are being transformed…”

If you are spending time each day gazing with unveiled face – with nothing hiding your true self from the God who loves you, nothing blocking your view of his gaze of love – on the glory of the Lord, you are being transformed. That’s a promise. A 100% money back guarantee.

If you don’t believe me, I dare you to spend 5 minutes for the next 5 days sincerely putting yourself in God’s presence (get to a Church where the Blessed Sacrament is present, if you can), remembering the truth of who the Lord really is. See if that doesn’t completely change your life. Those of you who have done this or something similar before know that there is simply no way around it – God’s love is transformative. Being in His presence changes us. It makes us who we are, brings us up into our true identity.

This is where healing happens, folks. Not in a counseling office. Not in a breathing technique or reward system. It is here, held in this gaze of pure mercy, brought back into the eternal exchange of love that you were created for, that your wounds can finally begin to heal.

Like an uprooted plant that has wilted in the heat of the sun, dried up and nearly dead, your soul will begin to feel alive again when you put your roots deep into the soil that lies closest to the Rivers of Living Water. The roots of your soul were made for this Water, and nothing less will do. And as you drink in the cool, refreshing sweetness of His Presence, your weak stem will begin to straighten up. Your crisp, dry leaves will soon begin to soften – you’ll find you can breathe again. Your body will follow as your soul begins to heal. Eventually you’ll find the courage to turn the blossoms you thought were hopelessly marred toward the radiant sun, and instead of being burned, as you feared, you’ll find a kiss waiting for you. You’ll realize that you are more beautiful than you thought. And you will dance in the wind, no longer fearful of the harm it may do to you, because you are deeply rooted. You know who you are. You are lovely. You are alive. You are healed.

This Resurrection is available to you, dear heart. The world, the flesh, and the devil will do everything in their power to convince you that this is pie-in-the-sky, that this is for other people but not for you, that you’ve already missed your chance. Those are lies. Those are big fat ugly lies, and I don’t want you to listen to those voices for one second. There is hope for you. There is life for you. And it begins (and ends) with the roots. It begins with immersing yourself in God’s presence and letting Him love you, letting His Life flow into every dry and ugly part of you.

“Draw me, we will run.”

St. Therese of Lisieux has a beautiful reflection on a line from the Song of Songs that says, “Draw me, we will run.” She says:

To ask to be drawn is to will intimate union with the object which holds the heart captive. If fire and iron were gifted with reason, and that the latter said to the fire: “Draw me,” would not this prove that it desired to become identified with the fire even so far as to share its substance? Well, that is exactly my prayer. I beg of Jesus to draw me into the flames of His Love, to unite me so closely to Himself that He may live and act in me. I feel that the more the fire of love inflames my heart, the more I shall say: “Draw me,” the more also will the souls who draw near to mine run swiftly in the fragrant odors of the Well-Beloved.

This is our call, brothers and sisters. To beg Jesus to draw us deeper and deeper into His Heart; to be totally captivated with who He is and to live our lives rooted in His love. To be identified with Him, to share His substance. To allow Him to make us into who we truly are, who we’ve really been all along: beloved children of a Father who is good beyond all we can imagine.

And when we do that, when we live from our true identities, when we walk through life, rubbing elbows with people from all different backgrounds, with all different stories, with our roots firmly planted in the truth; when we can stand on our own two feet and say with confidence, “I am loved. I am enough. I am very good, because my Father said so” – in short, when we wake from our amnesia and remember who we are, then something marvelous happens: seeing us, the people around us begin to remember who they are, as well!

And it’s not because we rescued them, fixed them, or gave them all the right answers to their impossible objections. No, it’s because we stopped chasing the false identity the world proposes to us and started living lives rooted in the unshakable truth that we are loved. It’s because we gave them permission to believe that maybe, just maybe, their ache to be loved is not just a cruel joke of the cosmos. When we live from our true identities in Christ, we give the people around us permission to dream again. And it’s that dreaming, that daring to hope, that will lead them in their turn to “gaze with unveiled face” and experience transformation for themselves.

So you see, dear reader, everything is at stake here. This is where the battle is won or lost for your soul, and for the soul of every person whose life you touch. Everything depends on this gazing, this resting, this receiving the love that brings the dead to life. You don’t need me to tell you that we will face opposition in this, but please hear me: You are not alone. There are people in your city, in your neighborhood, who are fighting this fight for silence, for receptivity. All around the world, we are united in this struggle together. And we are accompanied by all the holy ones who went before us who are now in Heaven cheering us on, eager to pray for us and give us their help and encouragement.

Gaze on Him this week, my friends. Be transformed.

Blessings,
Margaret

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