Wordless

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18

I was so moved this morning by a C.S. Lewis quote from his book, Weight of Glory.  He defines glory as ‘a longing for something that can hardly be expressed.’ 

“Suffering has the power to render a person speechless.  Glory has the same power.  We want something deep in our souls but we know it’s not available to us yet. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already; you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings, if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want so much more—something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but we know it can’t. They tell us that “beauty born of murmuring sound” will pass into a human face; but we know it won’t. At least, not yet. God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun.

At present we are on the outside of the world we belong to; we’re on the dark side of the door. The leaves of the Old and New Testaments are rustling with the rumors that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” C.S. Lewis WEIGHT OF GLORY

For any of you who are crushed beneath the weight of pain and words are not adequate to paint the anguish you experience, the same wordlessness will visit you again one day – but it will be the inadequacy to speak of glory, not suffering.  That is our hope and sustaining grace.

I am often like a fussy child not knowing what I want but hating how I feel.  You know what I want, You and Your kingdom and the restoration of paradise. Fill my heart with the hope of glory.  Amen

I’m An Heiress But Does It Mean Anything?

If we are children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  Romans 8:17

 If I’m materialistic here, then I will think of heaven as one big indulgence of ‘stuff’.  Being an heir of God means that I inherit God Himself.  Can that mean so little to me? “I say to myself, ‘the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”  Lamentations 3:24 God promised His chosen people in Exodus that they would enter the land of promise but that promise was eclipsed by other passages where God spoke of Himself as their inheritance.

There is no more moving moment in a romance than when one lover pledges their heart to another.  Watching it on the screen, I sometimes hold my breath to hear the words spoken.  What is unfathomable is that God would make Himself the Lover of my soul and give Himself to me without any reservation.  I was His enemy, and through no merit of my own, He made me His friend because of Jesus.  Today, I will do things that offend Him, yet His heart will still stay true. As if that’s not enough, He will give me other things as His heir.

1.)  A home.  He’s building one for me.  It will be perfectly crafted to my liking.  I won’t ever have to fear losing it.  Here on earth, homes are fleeting and fragile.  I can fail to pay the mortgage and lose it.  It can burn down or be destroyed in a tornado in a matter of a few seconds.  It can be broken into and precious things stolen.  Not so in heaven.  I’ll have a home I’ll never have to worry about.

2.)  A banquet.  There is a promise of abundance.  I’ll have an invitation to a dinner the likes of which I’ve never seen.  It is the stuff of fairy tales.  It will not be rushed and the joy of the fellowship across the table will have no trace of human drama.

3.)  An opportunity to rule.  Every time I am frustrated here by something I can’t change, I remember that God promises His children the right to rule one day.  I will share in the privilege of bringing about perfect justice and heavenly order.

4.)  A likeness to Christ.  I cannot imagine the gift of being like Jesus.  Frustration with myself will be a thing of the past.  Every habit here I can’t break, every fear that plagues me, every trigger that sends me down a path of bitter memories, these will all go away.

When I look at others today and envy, forgive me.  Amen

The Ultimate Test

…and if (we) are children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  Romans 8:16

The theology of suffering is an expansive topic but in today’s scripture, it is crystalized into something pretty simple.

  • Jesus suffered.
  • He told me that I I followed Him, I would suffer.
  • And if I suffer with Him, I will one day be glorified with Him.

If I am only someone’s friend in fair weather, my love for them has not yet been tested. Let hard times come and my commitment to them will cost me my own comfort. To enter their pain, I will sacrifice things like time, money, and perhaps my need to have my theology of suffering tied up in neat little boxes. Questions about faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness will arise if I remain intimate with my friend.

The same is true in my relationship with Jesus. My willingness to associate with Him in adversity authenticates my discipleship. If I am only true to Him in good times, my love for Him has not yet been tested either. Am I willing to keep the cross at the center of my life, not only His cross but the cross He told me to pick up and carry when I became His disciple? If I only follow when things are going well, I should examine whether I follow at all. Jesus’ faithfulness to His Father, while suffering, proved His Sonship.  My faithfulness to Jesus, in suffering, proves mine.

If my heart hardens in times of anguish, I have forgotten the significance of God’s overarching narrative in my own salvation. God, because of the curse, was a God who chose to redeem. To do that, there had to be suffering. As our High Priest, Jesus suffered. As one who is a member of His kingdom of priests, I must suffer to enter into God’s redemption story.

The heart of my Savior was laid bare on the cross. My heart is laid bare when I am sorely afflicted. When all was stripped away from Jesus, His love for me prevailed. When all my comforts are gone, my love for Him must prevail.

Oh, but I depend on Your grace to love You as You have loved me.  Amen

Adopted! And That’s Final!

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  Romans 8:15

It’s really hard to say what might be the most important verse in Romans 8 but this one has to make the top five.

God does not withhold what we need as children. He is generous with words, and word pictures, to let us know where we stand with him.  Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we don’t ever need to live in fear of not being good enough anymore or of being cast out of His presence. No more will a spirit of slavery spread insecurity like a cancer throughout our soul.  We can rest in our adoption.

“Adoption” is huiothesia in the Greek, which means, “to have an installation or placement as a son.”  Adoption means being taken from one family and placed in another.  It means receiving a whole new status that cannot be nullified, even if the children are difficult and dishonoring.

Satan, the father of all children (unless adopted by Christ,) is the worst of fathers.  He is not nurturing but cruel.  Though we all once belonged to him, there was never a warm sense of security.  Everything Satan isn’t, God is!  Whatever we experienced as children that left us wanting can be erased in the arms of our new Father.  It’s never too late to ask for what we need.  The healing we seek rests in the power of His words and the Spirit who breathes them into our needy hearts.

I never knew security until I found it in You.  There’s no peace like the peace I feel because I’m Yours.  Thank you.  Amen

A Gift Can Be Complicated

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  Romans 8:12

The giving of a gift can communicate different things. It might say, ‘I love you.’ Oh, but it can just as easily convey the message, “Now, you owe me!’ I’m sure you’ve received both kinds. I have.

It’s tricky, isn’t it? I’ve had people tell me that they receive far more gifts with strings attached than they do gifts that are freely given to enjoy. Feeling indebted to people we can’t fully trust is a heavy burden. Let’s face it ~ how some people expect to be repaid can be right out expensive. How many have stayed in a toxic relationship just because of guilt or obligation! Here’s an additional challenge ~ If I’ve been accustomed to getting gifts with strings attached, then I won’t be able to accept free gifts without thinking I surely must owe something.

Can being a debtor be a good thing?  Yes, as long as it’s with Jesus. He is my Savior, He gives without strings, and then invites me to give back my life, not out of guilt (indebtedness) but out of joy and gratitude. What cures sterile Christian service that feels mostly obligatory? Falling in love with the Giver. He is incapable of manipulating and using me to get His needs met.

I am safe to love You with my life. I can not give back too much because You already gave me everything. It is love that constrains me, Jesus. Amen

My Altered Past

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:11

Harry Ironside, one of the first pastors of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, said…“Christians are people whose past has been altered.”  The resurrection power of Jesus has forgiven their sins and forever stripped Satan of his right to damn them.  What power!  Without Christ’s death, my sins would have been enumerated and posted on my own cross.  I would have died the death of one condemned.  Hell would have been my end.

If my past has been altered, forgiven, then why does my past still affect me so much?  Is it possible that the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead can also make me new, in every way, on the inside?

  • If an angry mother raised me and I still tremble in the presence of anger, Christ’s resurrection power can deliver me from fear and make me bold.  I can be calm and prayerful though others rage.
  • If I was raised to be someone’s puppet and never had a thought or dream of my own, Christ’s resurrection power can deliver me from the control of others.  I can be free to follow Christ and follow His plans for me.
  • If I was criticized relentlessly for most everything I did and still feel a crippling fear of doing something wrong, Christ’s resurrection power can deliver me from playing it safe.  I can become a Joshua who goes forward in the God’s confidence to conquer spiritual mountains.

How does this happen?  Not by a simple prayer and one-time event.  While Jesus washed away my sins through one event, His own death, the process of being made new on the inside is progressive.  It’s something God does, but with my full cooperation and involvement.

Wouldn’t it be tragic to get to heaven and see a picture of who I could have been if I had trusted Jesus, and His Word, to really change me?  If I am a radical disciple, a woman who has great faith in the transforming power of Christ and every Word He speaks, I will cease to resemble the person I was in my past.  Jesus calls each of His children out of the grave, offers to unwrap the grave clothes so that we can be free to live in resurrection power.  To what extent am I allowing that?

I just realized, Lord.  It’s called sanctification.  Peeling away the grave clothes.  May it be!  Amen