Lord, I will love you, and give thanks to you, and confess to your name, since you have forgiven me so many evils and so many impious works. To your grace and to your mercy I ascribe it that you have dissolved my sins as if they were ice.
To your grace I ascribe also whatsoever evils I have not done. For what evil is there that I, who even loved the crime for its own sake, might not have done? I confess that you have forgiven me all my sins, both those which I have done by my own choice and those which, under your guidance, I have not committed.
– St. Augustine, Confessions
[Quote by Frederick Buechner, from Secrets in the Dark]
We labor to be born. All what little we have in us of holiness labors for breath, strains to be delivered of darkness into light. It is the secret, inner battle of every one of us. And through all our laboring, God also labors: to deliver what is whole in us from what is broken, to deliver what is true in us from what is false, until in the end we reach the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Paul says—until in the end we become Christ ourselves, no less than that: Christs to each other and Christs to God.
No one ever said it was going to be easy to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” the great voice sings (Matt. 5:48). Be holy. Be healed. Be human. Because the light shines forth in the darkness, giving power to us all to become children of God.
But every time that voice rings out, we answer with the voice of our own littleness, our own earthboundness, that such things are too wonderful for us, that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, that we can will what is right but cannot bring it about. It is no easy matter to save us when half the time we don’t even want to be saved because we are so at home in the darkness that is home. We none of us come to the end of our days with the saving more than a fraction done at best. But, praise God, the end of our days is not the end of us.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” the great voice calls out; and with this life behind us, we move on through realms of mystery and mercy and new life beyond our power to imagine until at last, through the cloddish and reluctant flesh of all of us, Almighty God of his grace will speak again in a different tongue and to a lesser but unthinkably significant end the word that was once made flesh and dwelt among us, from whose fullness we have all received.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away, who gives.