Meaningless, meaningless…

Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope…
Vanity, meaninglessness, purposelessness, emptiness, frailty, instability, ineffectiveness…all possible translations of the Greek mataiotés translated futility in this passage of the ESV. Adam and Eve’s sin, the fall plunged humankind into darkness. Sin’s consequence is death and destruction. It creates a meaninglessness, futility, and emptiness in life. Sin is real, as you know and it leaves the world frail. Futility equals a lack of hope, without reason to hope, and hope is perhaps our greatest human need. Without God’s intervention, by means of the curse, humankind would still be there, without hope, trapped in meaninglessness.
God had another plan. He always does…for our good. God transforms futility into life filled with meaning and purpose. He subjects creation, all of creation to the curse, for a purpose. We go kicking and screaming. We hate the results of sin in the form of this curse. We despise hard labor and pains of childbearing and the headship of the husband, while helpful, is a challenge for many a household. God subjects us to the curse in order to save us. God created a solution, so that we would not be lost forever in condemnation. The curse, however difficult and seemingly harsh to the world, makes a way for redemption, makes a way for Christ. The serpent nips at the heel, we feel it as sin in our lives and in the world around us, but the Savior crushes his head. Christ’s redemption makes even the things of the curse, good in this life.
Hard labor, the work of the church, the work of running the home often seems monotonous and futile in the daily living of life, but look around you. See what God has done in your work, in your family. He makes the hard labor a thing with purpose and meaning and beauty. Worth the toil. Mundane planning meals, cleaning bathrooms, toiling over sermons, double checking bulletins, and finding 30 minutes for exercise in a day become moments to proclaim hope and community with the Father and one another, and purpose.
Submission isn’t always easy, but we find the truth that it is always to our benefit. God’s order, even in the curse mirrors our submission to our Savior as the head of our families and our churches.
Hope is what God gives us, even in the darkest moments, even in curses and struggles. He has a plan and a purpose,
            For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

                                                                          Jeremiah 29:11

Restorer of moldy marriages, moldy lives

Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth…and God said that it was good. Everything was perfect, in the beginning. God created space and the atmosphere, stars and sunshine, oceans and dry land, flowers and food, birds and beasts. He created everything and called it good. He created man and woman and called them “very good.”
We can overlook that all of creation is not just subject to God, but proclaims Him and honors him. Creation itself knows the true story of God and redemption and restoration. Creation longs, just as we long, because it knows beauty and it knows the complex rhythms of life put in motion and sustained by a loving and involved Creator. Creation longs because things just aren’t right. We look around and see the beauty in creation, but we also see the thorns. We see and experience death in our lives. Things decay, things mold, things age. Sickness is real, in our lives, and in the lives of animals and plants all around us. Cancer looms, pain is a daily battle for some, and famine and pestilence are reality.
But as creation longs, we too long, and we know that restoration is coming. We hold on to this promise because we have seen with our eyes redemption. All of creation has beheld the Lamb of God walking among her streets and in her gardens. Stones cry out to Him and whales sing His praise for all He has done. Christ is good and redeems that which was begun “in the beginning.”
When marriages decay or become moldy, when families find that their only refuge is Christ, then we see the truth that restoration is still to come and we long for it with the creation. When the negative impacts our lives, we can thank God for His restoration promise still to be fulfilled and thank God for the freedom that Christ has given us through His death and resurrection, to experience restoration now.

Lord, You restore. Restore us today, through Your Son. Restore us completely on the last day, to live with you forever in Paradise. In Christ we pray, Amen.

My burden for someone else’s marriage- the joy and challenge of church work

Romans 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
What are your sufferings? We all have them. Even when life is going well, we look around us and there is cancer, disintegration of morality, addictions, false gods and other lies, hurtful words and broken relationships.
The church work family bears these burdens and suffering in a unique way. We have our own sufferings, we bring them to Christ to help us carry the load, and we wonder why life just seems so heavy so much of the time. We forget that often we are bearing the sufferings of those in our care. There are burdens on our heart for someone’s marriage that needs healing, or the member going through treatment; the suffering of the family who has had a miscarriage or the widow living alone. They are wide and varied in our work and in our congregations. And then there is the big one- there is people who do not know Jesus and so little time, who will tell them, how will we tell them? We suffer with the weight of the world on human shoulders frail and weak.
Paul gives us words of encouragement here, as if to say, “Imagine what Christ has in store!” God has a place prepared for us with no more tears, no more sorrow. There is singing and praising all the day around a throne and King worthy of every praise. His glory is so bright and magnificent that the sun is not necessary for light.
God also offers us glimpses of this glory revealed in His Kingdom work here on Earth. We see healing in sickness and hope in sorrow. We get to be messengers of His peace and joy and all the bounty that He offers us in Christ Jesus. We see children grow and faith blossom. We share Jesus over coffee and pray with people as good as strangers, who suddenly become family.
His work is hard and a struggle, a wrestling match between God and world, but His glory- Wow. His glory being revealed and to be revealed- oh, how worth it.