I am sitting on my porch swing at 7am. It is pleasantly cool. I hear lots of different kinds of birds. The dog is lying on the porch, the cat is sitting nearby. All seems peaceful. This peace is an illusion.
Five minutes ago was a completely different story. How can five minutes make so much difference? But then I was cursing at the dog who wouldn’t leave me alone. I was spilling hot tea on my hand and burning it. The inside cat was sitting on the window sill, and the outside cat was hissing and spitting at him. Inside the house the air conditioning has died. There is no money to fix it. My husband has no job, and the best possible lead did not send the offer letter they said they would send. My emergency stash is almost gone. I am frustrated with teaching karate, and scared of being vulnerable in the Ladies’ Bible study I joined.
This peace cannot be real, because the all the other stuff is still there. God asks me the question He asks me every day. “Becky, do you trust Me?” I look back at the passage I am trying to memorize in Ephesians. All I can remember is “Therefore.” Therefore there is now no condemnation. No, that’s Romans 8. That chapter saved my sanity years ago, maybe I should read it again now.
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Yes. That’s me.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Oh. How do I walk according to the Spirit?
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Life and Peace I want, but setting my mind on the Spirit is hard. Sometimes it seems impossible.
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Christ is in me, the Spirit of God dwells in me. God, who raised Christ from the dead, will give life to my mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in me.
Breath that in for a minute.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
By the Spirit… live. Not in my own strength and self-sufficiency. Ugh.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,
I am led by the Spirit because I am a child of God. I am NOT a fearful slave! I am an heir!
But I am afraid. I am frustrated. I am depressed. How do I put all that to death?
By the Spirit.
provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
I am an heir with Christ, which means I will suffer with Him before I am glorified with Him. So I should not be surprised when I suffer all manner of things.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Are my sufferings worse than Paul’s? No. God forgive me.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Frustration. That feeling that things are not what they should be. Or not what I want them to be. Futility. And there is nothing I can do about it. Maybe that’s a clue. Maybe I’m not supposed to do anything about it.
Creation waits and hopes for freedom and glory in God. How do I do that?
23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
At the moment I have no idea what those firstfruits are. Ah... Maybe it’s the Spirit which is the deposit for my inheritance (Ephesians 1). I guess Ephesians is sinking in more than I thought.
I definitely groan inwardly. But I think I forgot what I was waiting and hoping for. Am I waiting eagerly for my final adoption as God’s child, the redemption of my body? The end of this earthly life of struggles and the beginning of heaven? Is my hope in that? No. I can’t see it.
But do I trust it? It is certainly more sure than a paycheck or an air conditioner. More sure than my backache getting better.
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
If I hope for what I do not see, I must wait for it with patience. There is literally no other choice. It’s either hope and wait, or despair. Forgive me Lord.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Thank You Lord!
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
For the deep things. The things deeper than word or thought. The things no one else knows. The things I had to edit out of this list before it went public.
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
The Spirit only intercedes according to God’s will, He knows God’s mind.
I know that I cannot get away from God’s will. Thank You God!
OK, this next part is huge.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
So – I am called
He has a plan
All things are in that plan
All things work together for that plan
His plan is good.
29 For those whom he foreknew
Not just knew I would exist, but knew me before I existed. Knew me. Knew me and my doubts and fears and failures and sins.
he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
That is the plan – that I would be His child and be conformed to Christ’s image. I am not His child if I am not being conformed. That is sanctification.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Salvation: He predestined
All past tense. It’s a done deal. A sure thing. But it’s just not finished yet.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
God, Creator, Sustainer, Planner for me. What can be against me?
He is in control.
I am not.
But neither is Satan, or the government, the fallen world, or any other person. All are subject to His plan.
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Isn’t He going to take care of me?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn?
Yes. I am a failure at many things. Important things.
But God justified me! and I am not condemned!
And He’s not going to stop there.
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Christ is sitting at God’s right hand, in a position of power. And He is interceding for me too!
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
or lack of a job
or no air-conditioning
or my own sin
or my own fear
36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Through Christ. Not on my own.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Not even the past. Nothing can separate me from the love of God.
And that, self, is where true peace lies.