Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Between the Words

Life happens between the words. I receive a text, but the reality of what's happening, of where help is required, or how to pray is between the words.We know it. It's the way we live and communicate. But sometimes, especially when it comes to God's Word, we expect a magic-wand result.

There's the sense that if I read God's Word and pray, I will experience hakuna matata. Life will change and my troubles will disappear. But life happens. Between the words. Between the lines. There is nothing in Scripture that promotes ease, circumstantial relief, or escape. Not here. Not now.

I've been reading and studying the life of Samuel, Saul, David.... and a lot happens between the words: conflict, jealousy, anger, promises, failure, success. I can read and understand that they weren't perfect. Life wasn't perfect. And yet, there are times I think I should be able to hear a sermon or read a passage from the New Testament, and Voila! I will magically understand, obey, and experience God's blessing. My life will be instantly transformed!

The older I get, the more I see the disparity between what the Word of God says and how I think, act, and live. It used to seem so simple; so easy. "Be kind. Be tenderhearted. Forgive. Do to others as you would have them do to you." As children, it was cut and dry--and we had a lot of help, boundaries, consequences that prompted obedience.

Now, as an adult, the offenses seem greater, the weight of the past heavier, the grief deeper. Life. is. hard. Obedience is hard. I see what God's Word says, but I struggle to do exactly what it says. I justify disobedience; wiggle, squirm, and compare myself to others. Sometimes I try. And fail. There are days I want to give up.

But God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). He is forgiving, kind, gentle, patient, generous. And if I belong to Him through faith in Jesus Christ alone, I have access to His forgiveness, His kindness, His gentleness, His patience, His generosity. I do not have to rely on my meager store of limited, distorted human resources (for, "there is none righteous, no, not one").

Through the Spirit of God, I am able to forgive as He forgives--between the words, between the lines of life--to extend kindness and grace, to offer freedom and acceptance--between the words and lines of life.

Because, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20). The life of faith does not happen instantaneously. It happens moment by moment, decision by decision, in hundreds of thousands of moments of conviction and surrender, hour by hour, day after day. The life of faith is comprised of time, effort, prayer and trust...between the words.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:15-25)

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