I stand again at the fork in the road. One leads within and one without.
The outer pathway leads to the familiar – I’ve trod this pathway many times before.
It’s easy to navigate, with plenty of pit stops. All signs say it was built with me in mind. I love it’s promise of liberty.
I can do what I want, when I want – and be comfortable to boot. I dawdle here, stopping to pick up bits of satisfaction all along the way.
Yet, each time I satisfy one passion, another screams for attention. One desire spawns another until I’m not sure what I really want anymore. I eat, or sleep, or shop or surf – all to escape the cacophony. But the gnawing seems only to grow. The more I get, the more I want. My needs remain unmet and yet, I anxiously crave for more.
“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:15-16)
And then I remember the fork.
This inner pathway leads only to the unseen.
When I walk this path, I realize that I’m not the main figure here, but He is. It is not my will, my desire, my wants – but His that is being manifested along this road. I am not central.
The longer I walk here, the more distant the view of the outer road becomes. When I keep looking ahead, I see more of His Kingdom, both beyond and before, while noticing less and less the mess that is “me”.
Along the inner path, I am not alone with my fear. Because He is with me, I shall not want. The cessation of desire is the true pathway of joy and peace. In giving Him my desires, they gradually decline over time. I find myself with the desires of my heart because that desire is Singular.
So today, again, I choose the unseen way. Even as I begin, I am timid, because it is indeed the road less traveled. I cling to the promise of His Presence and ask that He guide my weak and feeble steps.
“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17-18).
Which way will you choose?
For two full years, I worked in the dark. Hours were flexible, but the job itself had to be performed without light. Today, we call it old-school. Then, it was the only way to produce black and white photos. Chemicals, wash, paper – all were sensitive to light, but needed darkness to develop.
Accompanying me in the room was a massive enlarger, especially suited to shine intense light through the negative and onto the paper. Even after the glossy page was exposed to light, change wasn’t immediate. Each print must go through a sequence of baths in order to draw forth the image. Developer, stop bath, fixer — each in order, each for a specific amount of time, according to the print itself.
Developing the image. How powerful the similarities. We’ve been “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), but like my darkroom experience, our resemblance includes a process.
Christ is the “the image of the invisible God” through which God’s Light must pass in order to imprint His image upon us (1 John 1:5; Colossians 1:15). Although salvation itself occurs in a moment, developing His image takes renewal into “a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created” us (Colossians 3:10). And God has designed this renewal to be a lifetime process.
We’ve come into contact with Christ, but the image is yet imperfect — merely a dim blur of what we will one day be. But the Apostle John gives us hope. “It has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Hallelujah, we do not have to wait until eternity to see His image, but as we fix our eyes upon Jesus “we all, with unveiled face, (can behold) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are being transformed into (His) same image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Granted, “now we see in a mirror dimly”, but one day our vision will be spiritually 20/20 (1 Corinthians 13:12). I, for one, want to continue the practice of seeing Light despite the darkness all around me. Let’s not lose heart, but keep looking “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” — into the very image of Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 4:16a; 18). After all, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).