I was seeking Him for additional insight regarding thanksgiving and thankfulness. But as I sat down to read, I didn’t end up in any of the passages I anticipated. I found myself in The Messagetranslation of the Book of Romans, chapters 7 and 8.
There were several phrases I read multiple times. The first one that continued to jump out at me states, “God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!”
I want that integrated and deeply engrained in my thinking, my choices. As I meditated on it, I realized that I am genuinely thankful that there are attainments, “good works which God prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10 NASB) set before me, personally, and before His Body, corporately. In an odd sort of way, it acts as a confirmation that although “we” – with all of our senses and perceptions – are “in” the world, we are truly “not of the world,” as Jesus stated about Himself and those who believed in Him. (John 17:16)
I am also grateful for the fact that we are being beckoned….elsewhere in Scripture, Peter proclaims that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (I Peter 2:9, NASB) And here, we are being beckoned….to which Paul states we have a God-enabled opportunity to respond as “adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?'”
There’s an old joke about two ways to greet the day: it’s either “Good! Lord, it’s morning!” Or, perhaps more commonly, “Good Lord….it’s morning….”
Which one of those greetings most typifies you? All too often, my response might not be the first option….but I long to integrate an ever-present sense of being “adventurously expectant” into my life. He draws each one of us towards a walk and intimacy with Him in which we can expect “Christ’s being-here-for-us” to lead and guide us through the next twenty-four hours with opportunities to be His Hands, His Voice, His Love, as part of the rhythm of our lives.
Let’s see if you are as captured by The Message translation of these verses, as I am:
Romans 7 starts, “For instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he lives, but if he dies, she’s free. If she lives with another man while her husband is living, she’s obviously an adulteress. But if he dies, she is quite free to marry another man in good conscience, with no one’s disapproval. So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died He took that entire rule-dominated way of life with with Him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God (italics added)…but now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God… ( 7: 1-6) I’m full of myself – after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison… I’ve tried everything and I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved.
“Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, He personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all…Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God!
“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…All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become…” (Rom 7:14,24,25,8:1-7, 12-16,22-25, The Message)
That might not present a pleasing in-the-natural mental image…but the Spirit of God arousing us within… should certainly bring an exciting sense of expectancy, of putting our feet towards His beckoning…and flowing with thanksgiving in knowing that whatever the particulars of our life, He is bringing them to bear His fruit, conforming us to His Image and weaving us into His Good purposes…