Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. 

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

- Valley of Vision, Puritan Prayers

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Waiting for that day...

"There is no escape from an aching soul, only denial of it. The promise of one day being with Jesus in a perfect world is the Christian's only hope for complete relief. Until then we either groan, or pretend we don't"
Larry Crabb, Inside Out.

In some ways I would love for this to not be true. I would love to be able to say that perfect joy is available now, that aches can be removed, that frustrations can be alleviated fully; that we can trust perfectly, love completely and await our Saviour with dry eyes. I wish we could promise a pain-free existence in this life with perfect relationships and no disappointments. But the truth is, some things are reserved for a day that hasn't arrived yet.

There are lots of things that are meant for today - forgiveness, justification and union with the Lord Jesus to name but a few. But we live in a twilight zone where God's promises are real but not all of them consummated, and some only partly realised but not fully. And so that's why we groan, aching for the day when promises become reality. The day when groaning gives way to shouts of joy.

Until that day we ache and hurt, and it is messy. But He who is eternally faithful has promised the better day, the day when tears will be wiped away, the day when our thirst will be truly quenched, the day when joy will be the very air that we breathe. So we can wait in confidence and hope, and we are free to acknowledge that an aching soul is the norm; it is part of this present age. The ache is there because we were made for more - and the 'more' is coming! So there is much joy, be it through tears.

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
 26In the same way, 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. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Romans 8:22-27