All Creation Cries

Photo: dead tree

“In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!

 It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail. And it is plain, too, that we who have a foretaste of the Spirit are in a state of painful tension, while we wait for that redemption of our bodies which will mean that at last we have realised our full sonship in him. We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something that we haven’t yet got. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience.” (Romans 8:18 -21)

A 7.7 earthquake hit offshore of my beloved province this week — seven times stronger than the earthquake that devastated Haiti. In the past two days there have been more than fifty sizable aftershocks, one of them a 6.4.

This week an enormously strong storm hit the east side of the continent. But I’m sure you all know about that.

As I walk around my neighbourhood this day I see images in windows and on lawns and in shops celebrating the tyranny of death and decay and erecting an open admission of the acceptance of darkness as a lifestyle.

Jesus said if the children were not allowed to praise him the very stones would cry out.

Can you hear it?

Can you hear the cries of nature, of creation, as it writhes in the agony of travail?

Can you hear it in the winds as they wail,

in the floods as they weep,

in the fires as they rage,

in the trees as they faint,

in the rocks as they groan deep in the earth?

Come Lord Jesus!

We wail

we weep

we rage

we faint

we groan.

We long to be made whole!

You are our Hope.

Benefits

Photo: snowy apples

It’s so easy, on a grey snowy day that comes too soon, to trudge from point A to point B, hood pulled partway over my face to keep the snowflakes from landing on my glasses. I hate rain or snow on my glasses. I can’t see clearly. It’s so easy to keep my eyes on the ground, resigned to disappointment.

But then I hear a voice that reminds me to look up.

When I showed these photos to a friend she was angry.

“Why didn’t they pick them?” she demanded, “Why didn’t they at least let a poor person pick them?”

Perhaps, like me, the people who owned this tree were too busy trudging through life to look up and remember the benefits that were theirs.

I think blessings are like that. We need to let go of a compromised theology based on disappointment. We need to look up to see these benefits. We need to stretch as we reach to grab hold of them. Sometimes they are just beyond our ability to grasp on our own; we might need the help and support of others who can hold a ladder of faith for us, people with clearer vision, before we can taste and see that the Lord is good.

I wonder how much unclaimed provision is up there?

Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Bless the Lord and forget not all His benefits. (Psalm 103:1)

Chopped Liver Days

Photo: Girl raking leaves

I’ve gone through seasons in my life when I felt like I could have danced naked on a table whilst waving a red flag, and no one would have noticed. These were the times when clerks asked the person standing behind me in line if they could help her. I’ve even had people ask if I was at a certain event when I had been one of the performers on stage, then they  go on to tell me about the great song they heard (which I sang.)

In times like this, these times of hiddenness (aka chopped liver days), we see promotions go to less qualified people, we are asked to sign birthday cards for others –on our birthday (but don’t get one ourselves), we sit in meetings while others receive credit  for our ideas and watch family drive past us as we struggle home with bags of groceries.

It’s weird.

I’ve learned in times like these that if I complain to the Lord,  (“What am I? Chopped liver?”) he is likely to say, “Hey you! Eyes here! I am the only one you need to be looking to for approval right now.”

This is a strange verse:

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5,6)

He will lift me high up on a rock and hide me?

Yes, we can be hidden in plain sight sometimes. It can feel like an invisibility cloak (for our good deeds -not for hiding sin!).

Sometimes we are set up high enough to take us out of the way of attacks of accusers and critics. They can see us but they can’t bring us down.

Sometimes we are concealed in tents to protect us from our own egos.

I think these times are about developing virtue, excellence and faithfulness.

Jesus said this in a story he told about money and responsibility: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21)

And also:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10)

In the Psalm that encourages us to forsake fretting when others seem to be getting ahead we read, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3)

In God’s hiring system the best candidates for positions of great responsibility are those who have proven themselves faithful by serving him reliably in seemingly small things without rewards or accolades -sometimes for a very long time.

But when he promotes, he promotes.

The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’

That’s the equivalent of being promoted from a stock boy who tends the shelves well to vice president in charge of marketing. It’s like moving from the position of mother of four on a tight budget to finance minister for the province.

Self-promotion is not nearly as effective as God-promotion.

In his time.