It happened when I was doing something else. Frankly, I hardly noticed. I was so surprised when I saw it, I almost didn’t tell anyone for fear they would think I was too arrogant and prideful. But then, I had nothing to do with it. It sort of snuck up on me. So I guess I can’t be proud of it or anything. In fact, since then, it’s so fleeting that sometimes I think I’m dreaming…or maybe drunk (except that I don’t drink booze).

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m quite pleased. In fact, I should have expected it. I had been told about it often enough. It’s just that I’m so cynical and see so much of my own sin, I felt that the hope of anything even approaching it was silly. I had prayed for it, but the prayer was one of those prayers you don’t really think God will answer—sort of like winning the lottery or growing hair.

But then I looked more closely and found that…I was starting to look a little bit like Jesus.

I know, I know. You’re saying, “Steve, have you lost your mind? Okay, you have a beard and Jesus probably had one, but he had hair too and you’re woefully lacking in that area. Not only that. You refuse to wear sandals and that white garment. You don’t speak Aramaic and you don’t…”

Wait, listen to me.

It’s true. I’m beginning to look a little like Jesus. I’m thinking a little like him and loving a little like him. I find myself connecting with the Father in sort of the way he did. I’m thinking of myself as a servant more than I used to and that is so like Jesus. And I’m kinder, more compassionate and a bit wiser…a little like Jesus.

In 1952, on a foggy morning in California, a young woman by the name of Florence Chadwick dove into the cold water off Catalina Island. Her goal was to be the first woman to swim from that island to the California Coast. She was no amateur. She had been the first woman ever to swim the English Channel in both directions.

She began her effort well enough but the water was very cold. She finally, after some 15 hours, growing numb with the cold, asked to be taken out of the water.

Chadwick’s comment to a reporter was profound. “Look, I’m not making excuses,” she said, “but if I could have seen the land, I might have made it.”

That is a great biblical principle: If you can see the land, you can keep on going.

Let me give you some texts. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28-29). Then the apostle John said, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him…” (1 John 3:2). Paul said to the Christians at Philippi, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

If you can see the land, you can keep at it.

We’re looking at another year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not altogether happy with doing it all over again. I’ve found that when you’re over the hill, you start picking up speed; and frankly, age is a high price to pay for maturity. To be honest, I don’t want to go any faster and I’m not into maturity, at least any more than I’ve got. So, I greet the New Year with mixed feelings…

That was until I realized that I was beginning to look a little like Jesus. He is the “first born” and that means he is the prototype of what is happening to me. I’ve got a long way to go but God promised he would complete the process and when Jesus comes, I’m going to look just like him.   Once I realized that, the New Year was full of hope because, who knows? During this year, I might look even more like Jesus.

If you can see the land, you can keep at it.

Most days I get on the treadmill…and I hate the thing! The thought of doing those 35 minutes is not one of my favorite thoughts. I can hardly think of it without also thinking of a cuss word. I sometimes think, I just can’t do this stupid thing one more time. I hate it and I hate my doctor for even suggesting it. I think I’m going to burn it! But as I get toward the end of the 35 minutes, I start feeling better about God, the world and myself. I even start thinking kind thoughts about my doctor. I think, You know, by golly, I’m going to finish this stupid thing again.

If you can see the land, you can keep at it.

We can see the land! That is what Jesus did for us. He said, “I know it’s hard and I know how much it hurts but let me show you the land.”

I talk about sin a lot. That is as it should be because I’m an expert. But I wanted to tell you about the other too.

Love is changing me.

I’m not going to make any resolutions this year. I can’t stand the guilt when I break them. But I am looking a little bit more like Jesus. He told me to remind you that you were too. You really can keep on trucking if you can see the land.

(Jesus also said that if you didn’t look like him that much, he would still love you. That goes for me too.)

Time to Draw Away

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 & Colossians 3:3-4

Are you slowly yet surely looking more and more like Jesus? That’s what he does, you know. His grace changes us. His love changes us. We’re in process…but it’s not us; it’s him. In fact, the only people who get better are those who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway. So run to Jesus and let him love you. It starts there.