Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:4-18When I look in the mirror these days, I am sometimes amazed, sometimes dismayed at the face peering back at me. It is not an old face just yet, though the lines that once vanished along with my smile or frown now linger. It is not a young face, either, as those lingering lines are accompanied by age spots and the whites of my eyes are not quite white anymore. It is a face in transition.
For a moment, I focus on the eyes. They are not as bright as they once were. They have seen many things both of stunning beauty and gut-wrenching horror. Their vision is less crisp than it once was, and creases are forming at their corners and on the brow where I frequently squint to keep the world in focus, forgetting time and again to wear my glasses. However, as the outer eyes fade, my spiritual eyes are becoming sharper than ever.
In my youth and early adulthood, when my physical eyes were at their peak in performance and in attractiveness, I was inwardly blind. Spiritually, I was a stone-cold blind girl following blind guides down a road that seemed innocuous but became more bitter and more clearly bent to destruction as I staggered along the way. My world was destruction, I felt, and so I cared not where the road took me. I was chained, it seemed, by guilt, by abhorrent things I had done or seen, but a conscience seared nearly to the point of numbness -- but not quite. The further I walked, the more my blindness became wilful, a desperate attempt to not see what was glaringly obvious before me. I felt myself doomed to walk this road and walked without hope and with dwindling remorse.
I did, however, come to a point where I was beyond myself. My strength was gone and I could travel under the burden of the chains I carried. I cried out hopelessly to a God I did not believe in and challenged Him to show Himself if He was, indeed, real. In His mercy, He not only disclosed Himself to me, He healed my blindness and freed me from those hateful chains, one by one. Those eyes, once so utterly -- and even purposefully -- blind, now see clearer with each new day even as the eyes peeking back from the mirror are beginning the relentless decline of age. In them I see pain, sorrow, and suffering, but also something new--hope.
Stripped of the scales, my eyes see the world in a new way, more unmistakable each day. My eyes see people struggling under burdens similar to the ones I once needlessly carried. They see the pain etched behind the smiles, the helpless grief behind the sobs. My eyes see with a new compassion and a longing to share the hope that is within me--the hope of a Lord who is mightier than the most overwhelming grief, who has shared in suffering and overcome--the hope of a King who reclaims and redeems, who offers a hope imperishable and a peace inconquerable quite despite circumstances that would otherwise leave only desolation. My eyes are seeing more and more like His, as He becomes greater and I become less.
My gaze travels down to the mouth. This, too, is faintly showing signs of succumbing to the passing of time; past its prime but not yet aged. This mouth once spouted arrogance and even blasphemous things. It had moments of cruelty, cutting down people with vicious jabs and thrusts of words. It was a weapon used to carve out a wide swath of space to separate myself from others and to recklessly defend that berth. It was haughty, proud, disdainful, and cold, but it was also a mouth weaving words intended to mask a lonely and miserable soul. It was a mouth frightened to admit failure, mistake, or defeat.
Now those lips are unafraid to confess crimes. When they are again used as a weapon, repentance follows, for the intent for this mouth now is to speak words of encouragement, healing, life, and truth. Sometimes words of rebuke must come, but gently now and without the venom that once tainted every word. Sorrow, too, and longing are spoken. Honesty and transparency has become the new goal, no longer shielding a broken soul but one mended and exposed and yet oddly invulnerable to this world, for now faith is no longer in survival of self but in dying to myself and clinging to the One who has overcome the world. This mouth now struggles against its old ways, and is often found vocalizing words of contrition and renewal, striving to reject unwholesome and destructive speech. It is a mouth in transition, being sanctified and purified, but not yet having achieved this end. As it ages, it mellows and is putting aside brutality and taking up nourishing and nurturing.
The whole face, indeed, is losing its youth and becoming more mature in appearence. There is no question that I am no longer a young woman, but middle-aged. However, despite isolated moments of regret, overall I welcome age and I hope to have a face with character; a face whose smile lines far outnumber the creases of frowns. I hope to have a face that shines with an inner radiance--the radiance of the love of God and of a creature abiding in Him. I hope that, should I be allowed a long span of years, my face will be that of a woman full of patience and the peace that surpasses all understanding, mouth speaking words of truth and of wisdom, eyes shining with the light of love.
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:15-16