Romans 8:18-21 (NIV) I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Our church is hosting a student ministries weekend, so I have pretty much been between work and church for several days. Exhausting but well worth it to see the unity of purpose and excitement among the teens and young adults. Spending most of yesterday at the church, I was returning home when I got a message from my daughter. Apparently my little grandson was being a handful so as soon as I got home, I hopped back in the car to help despite her objections. When I arrived, she met me at the door with the little guy facing front. Upon sight, a huge smile crossed his face and he began bouncing up in down in her arms. He recognized that Grammy had come to save the day. The next couple of hours were spent playing, eating, bathing, and rocking the littlest love of my life. I would not have wanted to be anywhere else.
There are so many things that crossed my mind driving home last night. I thought about my grandson when the door opened before him. His face clearly unsure of what was coming next or who was behind the door. I wonder what or who he was expecting. My heart burst at his response. Life is full of expectations. What is your response when someone knocks at the door unexpectedly? How do you respond to life’s interruptions? Are there blessings missed out on when human weakness convinces us of exhaustion, busyness, or bad attitudes? When I read this passage today, my heart turned to the Lord. He waits for us in each moment with purpose and promise yet in a life full of distractions clearly missed by lies and entanglements by the enemy of our soul.
Creation waits in eager expectation. What are they waiting for? The Children of God to be revealed. Creation is frustrated by its potential left undone by a choice not its own. The hope of all creation is to be liberated from bondage, decay and brought into freedom. Freedom cannot be explained to others until obtained through experience. You cannot share a Gospel with others until the Good News is evident in our own life. We must fill our life full of hopeful expectation in order to give it to the ones who the Lord clearly has called us to deliver. Your faith is greatly needed so your hope will be fulfilled because there are people in your sphere of influence waiting to see His Glory fill your life.
2 Corinthians 8:2-5 (NIV) In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
The Macedonian churches were suffering greatly. In the midst of it their “overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity”. We do not gain the world’s attention in how we react in the midst of prosperity but what is our response to poverty. When things do not add up to the promise, what is our positon? They gave as much as they were able and beyond their ability. What in the world? Yesterday, I was tired. The last thing I “felt” like doing was going to take care of a baby for the afternoon. I wanted to nap myself. However, this was not just any baby. He is my grand baby. When I arrived at the door, I expected a whiny and cranky teething six-month old. He has nothing to offer other than smiles, giggles, laughs, cries, smelly diapers, drool and snuggles before bedtime. He can do nothing for me yet expects me to do everything for him. God’s Children are surrounded by spiritual infants who need hope full expectation that someone will come. The exchange is instantaneous. When the door of opportunity opened, I was thrilled to see him and he was excited to see me. Day made. My exhaustion turned to pure elation. This is the relationship that is available when we stop looking to God for what we think we want, need and desire all of the time and decide to live in hopeful expectation by giving beyond how we feel, what we have, and what we expect Him to do for us. The Lord is ready to be glorified through us which means it is already in us looking for a way out. Christ is in us – we have hopeful expectation that is ready to be poured out to others.
Romans 8:28-30 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
The Lord is not suggesting that His Children pretend to have it all together and lack for nothing. He is instructing to live outside of this moment in the realm of hope that allows us to live beyond today by faith. We have no need to pretend because we are predestined. Every good and great thing promised to us including every benefit and blessing of His Grace belongs to us and is sealed in us by His Spirit. Christ lives in us bringing together all the messy and even missing pieces of our life into a masterpiece for others to behold. This is the image of giving in Christ that comes from the conviction that God works all things together for our good because we love Him and live as His Called and Chosen People.
The measure of our giving is not in content or quantity. It is the deepest conviction to give because of the quality of life that is given to those who love and trust God. Paul knew how to be content with much and even without anything. He wrote letter after letter chained and beaten in prison yet we find those messages to be heartfelt and uplifting filling us with hope that would never be discovered in this world.
Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV) I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Have we misplaced hope? I am asking myself the question today. Have believers become focused on finding hope here when it is to come? Hope will never lead to disappointment (Romans 5:5) when it is Jesus Christ. Jesus lives in us. He can be found. Yet we must eagerly and consciously expect those things that are not seen. To expect means to look forward to, regard as likely to happen, anticipate the occurrence or coming of, and to look forward to with reason. To expect requires faith. Once our faith is in Christ – we can move past the tired, busy, and unwanted places into the act of giving our life away to others confidently and completely because our conviction is that our hope is satisfied in Christ alone. If we approach the doorways of life ready to give our all, we may just find a blessing on the other side unexpected but always worth it!
Psalm 25:5 (NIV) Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.