This world, this country, and often our families are far from perfect. We don't live in a world that is filled with constant sunshine and rainbows, we do get to bask in their glory some days though (isn't that amazing?). I have been reading Romans 8 a lot this month. It was written by Paul to the Romans, with the intent of helping them to fully understand the grace that has been given to us by Jesus, as they understand the Christian faith and instructions as they begin to establish the Christian church in Rome. Can you imagine being a Christian at this time? Your savior was crucified and now you are not joining the cool kids lunch table where things seem to coast by with ease, you are swimming upstream against adversity. Life is hard. Believing is hard. How do you think they rested at night?!!! Jesus never promised ease, or perfect. But he promised to be with us while we endure in this life. And he promised us beauty will come, if not here in this life, then in the next with him.
The Message is just a version of the bible, put in to words that sometimes make the language a bit easier to understand. So can I drop a little easy to understand bible on you?
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
We cannot do all the hard alone, it is a dead end. I have run my forehead into the wall on the dead end far too often, it never ends well. When I stop banging my head against that wall, and say "Alright, Jesus, you take it" and focus on him, that weight slowly lifts off my chest, my heart aches less and less, I can breathe, and enjoy that spacious free life. When life floats along with relative ease, I find I slip so easily in to my own world, but when I trip and stumble, I reach up so quick and grab his hand. Just like Tobin right now!
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
Right now it may be hard times for you, but he has you in his hands, and while he holds you, look ahead with excitement, the beauty is coming.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
(When Paul speaks of pregnancy here he is referencing the anticipation of new life coming.)
If you feel tired, he is right alongside you. You don't need the perfect prayer or need to know the perfect verse, you just need to cry out in your ache and weakness. He's got you. He will work this hard in to good. I promise, some good will come, even if you don't get to view it in this life - you will when you join him in your new life.
I am a living, breathing testament that beauty is coming. I have ached, and I still do, but most days I am living in that open spacious life, and embracing it with wonder. These two blessing here on earth with me, and knowing that some day I will dance with Koen in my arms while Jesus watches over us and smiles. How can I not live in wonder?! We need to teach our kids that life is hard, but with God alongside them they can solidly stand on two feet and take the blows that are sure to come. And that beauty will come, and when they see it they experience that beauty to embrace it.
So grateful that I found my beauty again recently. It has helped restore my joy. Most days I feel lighter - like I can spin around in a circle, hands up in the air joyously, in that open space God has made for me. He’ll bring you beauty and make an open space for you too, you just need to cry out and let him come in. He's always there, and so am I.