Creation Groaning

This morning, I was reading in Romans 8 – words so fitting for the moment we find ourselves in. Romans 8 begins by telling us that in Christ we are set free from the law of sin and death. Sin and death are still very real; sadly, this is all too obvious. But for the follower of Jesus, sin and death are not our ultimate destiny.

But there’s more, for what is true for us as creatures, is also true for all of creation. In verses 19 & following, Paul talks about creation eagerly and expectantly awaiting our redemption. But it’s not just ours; creation is desperate for its freedom, too. In verse 21, Paul makes clear that our freedom is creation’s freedom; that God’s redemptive purposes are not individualistic; they cover all that He has made.

I find these words immensely hopeful, in a time that feels hopeless to so many. Even as many groan for more – for things to be what they are meant to be – Paul says that creation cries out, too. It was groaning in his day, and the groaning continues, 2000 years later – for healing, for wholeness, for hope.

The promise of scripture – the promise of God – is that our groanings have an answer. That answer is found in the redemptive work of Jesus – a work that restores lives, families, communities, and reaches into every corner of creation. It’s a work we’re called to be a part of now. As believers, we must work for the new day we believe is coming – even as we, along with all of creation, lament all the ways it is not yet a reality.

For this is what Hope looks like: holding fast to what will come, while working to live that reality now. Knowing what God will do, Hope does the hard work of shining the light of God’s redemption now – even as we long for it to come, completely and forever.

And the promise we have, is that one day, it will. Even so, Lord Jesus, come!

Slow Down – and Live!

I don’t wear a watch. Don’t want to. But I have to say: I am fascinated by this one: The Slow Watch. It’s a watch that doesn’t measure seconds or minutes like other watches — it only measures hours. Why?

On the surface, the Slow Watch seems so out of place in our fast-paced world. But the designers have a bigger purpose: they want us to remember that what we do shouldn’t be calculated by minutes or even seconds — but by the choices we make. In a hamster-wheel world, the Slow Watch is a reminder to slow down. To live life. To be intentional.

All of this isn’t enough to get me to buy a Slow Watch — especially because they start at $270! But it is a reminder that my day — my life — isn’t about rushing from one activity to the next.

To that end, Randy Gariss has written a very helpful article to remind us to live our lives on purpose. With intention. And direction. Gariss calls this a “whole life” — a “full and complete” one. You can find the article here. In fact, if you only have five minutes to read before you have to rush on to your next activity, click through to Gariss and leave my blog in the pixillated dust. It’s okay. I understand.

For the three of you who are still here, let me simply say a few words about what Gariss writes. He gives us ten areas that he considers essential to living a life of wholeness. I can’t say that I disagree with any of the areas he mentions; they are all important. But let me mention five of them:

  1. Worship. Wholeness starts here. Especially when we realize that worship isn’t simply about Sundays, but about a wholehearted pursuit of God. I want this to be what defines me. And shapes me.
  2. Friendship. Every one of us, no matter our personality type, or our maturity level, needs good and godly friends to walk with us through life. The older I get, the truer I find this to be.
  3. Work. If our lives are going to be full and complete, then we must come to grips with what most of us spend most of our time doing. Work is a gift; work is a challenge; work is an opportunity; work is a reflection of who we are. Not all of us get to work at what we love, but all of us have to (in some sense) learn to love what we work at. Otherwise, life becomes about clock-watching — and wondering why this dang Slow Watch is moving … so … slow.
  4. Rest. This is vital. Rest is not only how our bodies renew; it’s also how our souls renew. Without rest and solitude, life becomes a blur. And a meaningless one at that.
  5. Creativity. This ties in to number one. If our lives are ordered around worship (that is to say, a healthy relationship with God), then creativity is the natural outflow. If I am in a proper relationship with my Creator, then, as one created in his image, I reflect that creativity. And my unique reflection of the image of my Creator is demonstrated in the unique creation that flows through my hands, my heart, my life: And in the God-infused creativity of my life, I come to realize: for this, I was made. To use the creative gifts a creative God has given to me. Which, to me, sounds a lot better than just rushing through my day getting the next thing done.

I’m ready for a “whole-er” life — one lived more intentionally, and faithfully. How about you?

Thank God It’s … Thursday

I shouldn’t be blogging today. It’s Thursday, and on most Thursdays, I don’t work. It’s the one full day I try to step away from church stuff. But today is different. I had a meeting today, and so I switched my day off. And I can feel it.

I felt it last night as I finished a long day, and my body said: Hey, tomorrow is a day of rest. Yeah!!!

But then my mind immediately kicked in. No, it’s not. Our goofball guide has decided to swap off-days this week.

Taking a Sabbath Snooze

Still, my body rebelled. When the alarm went off this morning, my fatigued frame said, No way. I’m not getting up. And it wasn’t kidding. Man, was it hard to get moving today.

Perhaps my body was trying to tell me something? I wasn’t made for constant activity. Faithful living isn’t equated with frenzied living.

In the New Testament, Paul is clear that salvation does not come through doing the works of the Law (evidence #1: the second treatise he wrote that we have in our Bibles, his letter to the Galatians). But there is a difference between being saved by doing things, and doing things because we have been saved. If salvation is wholeness – and I believe it is; true wholeness that only comes through Christ – then it changes me, body, mind, and spirit. And while I do not do things to earn wholeness in Christ, when I am given the gift of saving wholeness, it changes what I do – and how I live.

And one of the changes is that I no longer have to try to earn my way – as a minister, as a Christian, as a parent, or as a good American citizen – by simply doing more. The idea of sabbath isn’t a matter for legalistic rule-keeping; it’s a life-giving principle. I am not in charge. My work does not define me. The kingdom of God, or the church, or my family, or my wholeness are not dependent on how hard I work, or how much I do. It is not a badge of honor to work my butt off.

My body already knows this. My mind is continuing to learn this. And my spirit is renewed by this truth. For I am not God. I am not in charge. The church is not dependent on me. And sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do is to not do. But to rest, and remember this truth: He is God.