The Anxiety of Impending Sanctification
I can see it coming. Like a fastball right over the heart of the plate. Like a perfect spiral thrown right to my hands. Like a chip shot that sends the ball right into the hole. Laying aside the cheesy sports metaphors, I’m talking about the sanctifying hand of God.
As I’ve been working with my editor to finalize my manuscript, I’ve been contemplating the events and possibilities that I can expect in the coming year. By signing that publishing contract, I’m stepping out of my box. I’m leaving my comfort zone. I’ve been living out my faith inside an insulated bubble, and now that I’m bursting that bubble and introducing myself to the world, I can almost see how God will use these new experiences to mold me and shape me closer to the image of His Son.
There will be interviews. There will be book signings. There will probably be conferences. There will be meeting lots of new people, young and old, fans and haters. As an introvert, that thought terrifies me the most. I’m not the greatest conversationalist in the world (though I’m much better than I used to be), so I worry about being engaging enough for the people who want to talk to me. Will I take these opportunities, brought to me by God’s sovereign hand, and engage with folks with charitable interest? Or will I draw on my own feeble strength, retreating within myself and potentially alienating those who wish to engage with me? I know what I want to do, what I’ve decided to do, but I sometimes still wonder if I'll hold fast to those convictions when the moment comes. Will I be bold like Daniel as he stared down a den of hungry lions? Or will I wither and fold like Peter in the high priest’s courtyard? Lord help me. Give me strength.
Another concern I have is engaging with people regarding the content of my book. It’s possible that some folks will take issue with a handful of moments of brutal violence that I’ve written, but I’m more concerned about reactions to the theological content. The Christian church in America has been playing in the shallow end of the pool for quite some time, and because of this, deeper theological truths have either been forgotten or discarded. How will people react when the things I’ve written challenge them? With gratitude? With anger? Will I receive these responses with humility and grace? And how will I react if their rebukes challenge me? Am I humble enough to admit that I don’t have it all figured out? That I certainly, like everyone else, have room to learn and grow?
Sanctification will always be an aspect of Christian faith that is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s amazing that God cares for me, wants me to be better, especially considering how unfaithful I am to Him every single day. But to most folks, especially an introvert like myself, true terror comes in the form of change, of being asked to break free of bad habits and sinful attitudes. So when I feel that terror, I need to remember God’s goodness, remember that He loves me and would never ask anything of me that wasn’t in my best interest. So if you’re reading this, say a little prayer for me. I feel like God is about to do some major work on me, so pray that I’ll be open to His loving, sanctifying hand, regardless of how painful it might be. May this process bring Him glory, and may it also bring me closer to Him.