Grave tending

Somewhere in the midst of my early college years and battle with an eating disorder, I memorized Romans 8, allowing the words “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” and “nothing can separate you from the love of Christ” to resonate deep inside my heart. This morning Romans 8 came alive in an entirely new way.

I’ve begun to read from The Message version during my morning devotions. The simplicity and down-to-earth nature of the translation grips me, making plain many truths that I’ve glazed over in recent months. This morning was no exception.

Read with me:

“15-17This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”

Did any of you ever respond to the age-old question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” with the answer, “I want to sit in cemeteries and watch graves every day of every year. I want to make sure the dead are really dead!”

I sure hope that was not your dream.

I hope that you had grandiose plans about pulling on a fireman’s uniform and rushing into save a frightened child. I hope that you schemed about owning a private island and sleeping on the beach to the sounds of crashing waves and cicadas. I hope you played dress-up, walked down the aisle to marry Prince Charming, wrapped a fleece blanket around your baby doll.

Yet, how many of us have found ourselves watching graves, staring into the abyss of disappointments and dashed dreams? I, for one, have a few headstones that I’ve memorized every detail of their granite, condemning edifices. Listen again to Paul’s exhortation: “[This life] is adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?””

So, this morning I ask: “What’s next, Abba Father? Where do I go from here? How do I live in the present?”

Keep reading with me:

“22-25All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”

If the writer of Romans could have read my biography before putting quill to parchment, then I think these verses might have been especially penned for me. I feel the birth pangs of . . . I’m not sure what. My literally barren body yearns for full deliverance. My soul is being stretched taught by the waiting. “But,” Paul writes, “the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”

This morning as I ache for a baby, ache for God’s reminder that He has not forgotten about me, not withheld something so good, I need more joyful expectancy. I need to memorize the question, “What’s next, Daddy?” I need to be wrapped in His loving arms.

I pray that you too are held and wrapped in His arms. I pray that you too are enlarged by . . . who knows what. But, it will be something good. Remember, if you endure the hard times with Him, then how much more will you walk into the inheritance prepared for you! It is enough to leave our shovels, stop digging graves and emerge from the cemeteries. There is a lot more to life than empty coffins.

Meditate on this one final passage:

 “26-28Meanwhile, 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.”

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