One thing I was looking forward to after graduation was the opportunity to take occasional spiritual retreats without the constant press of anxiety over papers and reading. In practice, this means packing up my tent and gear and hiding in the woods for a day or two. Last week, I had the chance to do just that.
I landed at Kehl Springs, which sits at the top of the Mogollon Rim and overlooks Payson, Pine, and Strawberry. The wind was constant, as was the sun, and by midday, I discovered that I had acquired a bright red sunburn on both arms. This was a surprise since it was about 50°, but I’ve heard stories about skiers getting sunburned, so I should have expected it. I’ve posted some thoughts and pictures (of the site, not the sunburn) after the break. The video, though, was made for Anna’s sake–she doesn’t like heights–but I think it gives a good view of where I was sitting for the afternoon.
In any case, it was a good retreat. Nothing spectacular, no booming revelations, no stunning life decisions. Just time to read through a Gospel and to consider ways in which I would like to pray for God’s sanctifying work to continue. Perhaps the most intriguing thought I came away with is this: Do I pursue sanctification because I want to be a better person, or because I want to glorify God?
I think that if I am pursuing sanctification because I want to be a better person, my motivation will quickly dwindle. Why? Because self-improvement–like all idols–can only satisfy so much. It becomes too easy to find folks who will say, “You’re a decent person.” There is little joy to be had in receiving glory for fixing myself, when I’m all too aware of the reasons I shouldn’t receive glory!
On the other hand, if I’m pursuing sanctification for God’s glory, the motivation never ceases because He never ceases to deserve glory. Rather than satisfaction in my own efforts, I can find satisfaction in collaborating with the Holy Spirit and being edified by His ministry to me. Rather than joy in my own, undeserved glory, I can be joyful that God’s glory will not fade and His transforming work will not end until I am conformed to the image of His Son.
So, that’s that. I’m now praying that God’s glory would be my motivating impulse in the pursuit of sanctification, and I would be happy to have your prayers for that as well.
Grace & Peace,