Yes, I think you have indeed just realised something of vital importance.
Christ is, as St. John tells us, the Word Incarnate; the second person of the Trinity, who emptied Himself to take on our flesh in order that it should be redeemed. That is why the Incarnation plays such a central role for Orthodox Christians. God is infinite and beyond our knowing; beyond even a category of 'knowing', since our minds cannot begin to compass Him. But through Christ we know Him as He wants us to know Him. Our relationship with Him is our relationship with our Creator, and it is one of love; if we will but love Him.
We have to be careful with 'sin'. Orthodoxy does not take on St. Augustine's idea of 'Original Sin' in the form which the western Churches have taken it on. It holds, rather, that we have inherited the penalty of Adam in that our likeness to God is marred by our propensity to sin; we are not inherently depraved and worthless - but we do sin, through weakness, through ignorance and through our own deliberate fault. The beautiful Donne sonnets you quote give us a good sense of this.
Quote:'He came down from heaven'...the only time this has ever happened in the whole of history. Am I correct?
Yes, you are.
Quote:Thus, both my own being and becoming are in need of salvation. Salvation 'happens' when both being and becoming are Redeemed. Salvation is not merely the realisation of awareness or consciousness. Salvation is something entirely Other - and a free gift from an entirely other Cosmic Realm where God abides in His fullness.
On the whole I'd say 'yes' to most of this, depending on what you mean by 'free gift'. If you mean that Grace is of God, then of course, yes; but we also must strive to be worthy of it. What I like about the notion of theosis (as I understand it) is that it makes such good sense of what I have always felt must be the case - which is that living the Christian life, and walking in His way, and taking the Holy Eucharist must transform me in this life, and help fit me for the next. So yes, both 'being and becoming' are indeed Redeemed through Him, and through His body and His blood - with us as active partners in the process.
We are truly free when we are most like ourself, and we are that when we are most like God, for we were made in God's image - and thus we shall indeed be 'made newe'.
It is wonderful that you have that feeling of being given another chance, for that, surely, is His work. Just think of it for a moment as it really is. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that we might be saved; what love, what compassion - what, me, worth that?! But that is what the Church teaches, it is what the Bible says. As my favourite hymn has it, 'forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the name of Christ my God, my richest gain, I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.'
In my experience, His voice never orders you or gives you ultimata - He leaves it to you. Like all Fathers, He wants us to love Him because we do so, not because He makes us. Why? Because that love transforms us - following His way transforms us - all for the best.
Can I prove any of this? No, of course not, and I would not dream of trying. It either speaks to one's experience, or it leaves one cold.
I shall, God willing, come back to some of the other points you make in the other thread. But just pray, my dear Mark, and open your heart to Him. Don't be impatient, don't (oddly enough) expect miracles; He will work His way as He wants - you just have to be open to it.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)