Weight of Glory

Choice as Participation in Creation.

Recently I have been feeling overwhelmed by the weight of the future. Every plan I have had about where I would be by now has not come true, and I have been struggling with what to do next. Should I reapply for graduate school and continue to put effort into that vein, or should I focus on starting a career and looking for a job and moving on? Is it feasible to do both? What does God want me to do next?

It only got worse when I began to think that whatever choice I made, even the choice not to choose, cuts off possible futures for me. Every decision, every second, of every day, creates radically different worlds for me in the future. Or perhaps not. I don’t have the omniscience to know. It seemed like a terrible burden, crushing in the responsibility. I came to think about how choice is perhaps the greatest power in the universe; it is the ability to deny or allow possible worlds to come into being. And we sometimes choose on impulse, or for no reason! For no reason we might disallow a world to come into existence and we might not even know it! With this greatest of powers comes the greatest of responsibilities. It was very…depressing for a while. What if I messed up? Made the wrong decision. It could not be fixed or repented of, ever. Not completely. The world I denied can never be brought into being.

Then I began to be reminded of what Lewis called, “The Weight of Glory.” That there are no ordinary people, everyone is an immortal soul who reflects the image of God. In this, our decisions matter, are taken seriously. But ultimately, for the Christian, God promises us that we will be glorified. Glory, to Lewis is being praised by the Creator, a Divine accolade, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Lewis describes it this way,

It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God… to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. [^1]

The promise of glory is not that we will do everything perfectly, nor that we will make all the perfect decisions or that we do anything. But that God will continue his work in us and perfect us.

So what then is the purpose of my choosing? Of my struggling? Of my trying to do my best?

I’ve been thinking about this, and because of my position between Free Will and Determinism (which I will not expound upon in depth here) I am going to have to say; to create. Admittedly not create in the way that God does, from nothing. I am just as restricted by the choices of my ancestors as I am by the choices that I have made up to this point, but that doesn’t mean that my choices are irrelevant. Our choices, before the universe began, limited the range of possible worlds that God could have created. Thus this universe, the universe we are in, we helped bring about. We, to some extent, continue to help bring about. If we had chosen differently, God would have known differently. The worlds we deny, God knows, but he knows that we deny those worlds, but comes alongside us in all of our weakness and creates with us.

This is consistent I think with other things God does. The Holy Spirit worked alongside authors of Scripture to produce the writings of the Bible, he did not dictate them to the Prophet like Allah did with Muhammad, nor did he let the human writer work entirely independently of God’s will. We entered into creation with him. God invited us into relationship with him, he does not force us into it, and as we “work out our salvation in fear and trembling”1 we also know that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”2 It does not mean that I should make bad choices and know that God will bless them, but I do know that God will bless those who try. This is the Parable of the Talents.

And this comforts me intellectually, and inspires me to do better. I want the world that I help bring about to be a better place, because God is amazing and has invited me to make something great with Him. It assures me that the work I do with God, will be good. It is a comfort, but that does not mean that it makes decision making easy. I am still at a crossroads of life, and am dependent on grace. I want to step forward and do God’s will. I pray that I will be able to. And I am thankful for the honor.

  1. Philippians 2:12 
  2. Philippians 1:6