Monday, November 9, 2009

Tension


Today we had a guest pastor at church who preached on Habakkuk. That book you've probably never read - me neither. He asked, when is or was the Kingdom of God among us? a) When Christ was on Earth, b) now, or c) at the Second Coming of Christ? And the answer is: yes, yes, and yes.

He compared where we are now - in this period between to two comings - using some World Series baseball analogy about rings or something. So as I must always do when pastors use such analogies, I created myself another that made sense to my sports averse brain.

I thought of this one: when we adopt, there will be a date that a judge in Ethiopia declares our baby legally ours. All of our work and prayers and groaning will have officially accomplished the goal with the thud of a gavel. But - we won't have traveled yet, we won't have even laid eyes on him or her. It won't feel complete. There will be an interim period where the child is ours, but not yet ours. Full hearts, but empty arms.

This is where we live now, in the Kingdom of God. Christ has come. Christ will come again. But for now, as we live suspended between those two times, there is tension.

I get it.
My entire life feels like that right now.
And I'm tense.

Our house is on the market, but garnering very little interest. Do we take it off and refinance? Do we leave it on and wait for the one magic buyer? Are we supposed to move? Are we supposed to sit still? Tension.

Much of the adoption is tied to the house. For now, I can't proceed until the house thing gets settled. But there is no clear direction on the house. I want to get a move on with the adoption. But my hands are tied. Tension.

One of my children is having medical issues. Nothing life threatening, but constant, aggravating, and serious. We've spent much time recently in the hospital having tests run. The results: inconclusive. The treatment: nonexistent. The prognosis: unknown. Tension.

Very, very important things are out of control. And the control freak in me is, well, freaking.

While spiritually, I am agitated, frustrated, and barren.

Because just as this tension exists on earth - between the rocks crying out that Jesus is Lord while the earth still groans for freedom from decay, between the glory of God being manifest before our very eyes to our encounters with the unspeakable evil that still reigns free - the tension also exists within me.

When times are very very good, I am full of praise for the Father. And when times are very very bad, I cling desperately to his feet.

But then there are the interim times.

In the interim times, when life is flowing, reasonable, manageable, my house of cards stays steady. But one small gust of wind in the form of a stomach virus or a husband out of town or a birthday party to plan and the tense rubber band snaps - and I snap - and my house collapses.

Because there is a tension that exists within my own soul between the old slave to sin and the new creation. I am fully redeemed, yet not fully transformed. Fully justified, but not fully sanctified. Fully loved, but not fully lovely.

Or as Paul said in Romans 7:22-25, one of my favorite passages:

For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.


Oh, who will rescue me from this wretched body of death?

I know the answers. I know the only antidote to anxiety comes from the One who will give me rest, yet, irritated, I turn away from Him. I know he offers the peace that passes my understanding but I cling to my chaos. The more I resist him, the more I sin. The more I sin, the more I resist him. My hospitality turns to hostility. Patience leaves me. I growl at my family, I berate myself, I nap more, engage less, watch more TV, read less, eat more Halloween candy, exercise less, and complain about the tension between my shoulder blades in this aching body of death.

Yet ironically, stupidly, the one thing I can control in this time of uncertainty is the way the tension snaps. I can snap away towards the things of this world that bring me no peace and make a difficult situation even worse, which is exactly what I have been doing.

Or instead of resisting God I can resist the dead woman inside of me, and snap towards the one who longs to gather me unto Himself, and remind myself of the things He has promised.

If God is for us, who can be against us? 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. The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Oh, snap.

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