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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Waiting in expectation

So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!  This 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!  (Rom. 8:12-17)

The apostle Paul opened this chapter with the idea that a new power is now in operation in our lives - we are living exchanged lives.  In choosing this new way of living, we are provided assistance to live "right".  Paul has spent time presenting the futility of living by the rules in order to attain a righteous state spiritually.  Now, he focuses on the idea that re-doubling our efforts to do good really doesn't pay off.  What we need to do is to embrace the Spirit within us and allow him to do within us what we have proven impossible to do in our own efforts.

God wants us to have our outside actions aligned with our inside attitudes - and he wants both to be pure.  Paul has offered us two choices - obsess over the rules or rest in the leading of the Spirit.  Look at the contrast - one is totally our own effort, resulting in tiring attempts that really don't yield much of a harvest of righteousness.  The other is a restful, trusting attitude that allows the right stuff to take root in our lives.  There are three things that Paul presented to us that will bring us out of bondage to sin: 1) Attention to God; 2) Obedience to the Spirit; and 3) Trust in God's actions within us.

Focusing on self is exactly opposite of focusing on God.  If we are focused on self, our actions prove it.  If we are attentive to God, our actions manifest him.  Paul has spent 8 chapters telling us that we don't owe our old lives of self-centered focus anymore attention - it is time to live exchanged lives.  Now, he transitions to an awakening process that God has begun in us at the point of our salvation.  He says that if we go through hard times with Christ, then we are guaranteed to go through good times with him.  There is an awakening of our Spirit to the enlarging process God has in mind for each of his children.

Did you ever consider the idea that we are actually "enlarged" in the waiting?  Just as a woman awaits the birth of her child, watching over the months as the child grows within her womb until it so apparent that there is a new life contained within, so it is with us spiritually.  We can see the growth - starts so small that it seems to not even be noticed - then all of a sudden, we are "pregnant" with spiritual growth!  What seemed to be unnoticed now is apparent, but there is much more hidden within just waiting to burst out onto the scene of our lives!  At first, we don't see what is enlarging us, but we see the effects of the work going on in our spirits. 

Consider this - we can become so obsessed with how something is happening that we miss that it is happening!  Sometimes we focus on wanting to see the total change of character (the birth), when we just need to be trusting in the waiting period (the pregnancy).  Rushing the birth of a baby leaves a baby at risk of not being fully developed.  Rushing our spiritual character birth can be as traumatic.  Paul went on in verse 25 to say that the longer we wait, the larger we become and the more joyful our expectancy.  In the waiting, there is a "God-process" going on, increasing our spiritual capacity for more of him and less of ourselves.

The moment we get ahead of God, tired of the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside of us to help us along the way.  We can choose to spend more effort trying to avoid the wait, or we can settle into the waiting period and see what God will produce.  God is all about the shaping of our lives - we can be shaped by our experiences or by the Spirit that dwells within us.  I'd choose the latter - it has proven to be much more beneficial in my life!

In the waiting, God embraces us.  Tenderly caressing the growth he sees within.  The most meaningful exchange between two people is when two are in agreement with the embrace and both are invested in the relationship.  Today, move into God's embrace.  Allow him to complete the growth within you.  Don't rush that spiritual "pregnancy" within you!