groaning

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If you listen close, if you listen patient, you could hear it.  The way the tree’s fingers reach for heaven, the way they scrape through dirt and up to sky, hands raised to Him.  Their speaking is bound to time, to the rhythm of the seasons, and in this season they let go of their leaves, the million little hands that cup the warm sun and drink it down to the roots.  They close up and keep warm for the long cold months and they nourish the ground with what falls.  It’s a death of sorts.  A death that gives way to the next years’ life.

Do they get tired of this rhythm like I get tired of it?  The bondage of corruption.  The work of living.. producing, growing, feeding, transporting, competing, protecting.  And all the small deaths before the final death.

Can you hear the groaning?  In the way they winter, can you hear their cry for redemption soon?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”  {Rom. 8:18-23}

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And how back in that good Garden, where futility and thorn began (Gen.3), the creation’s eye was trained on mankind and on the story of redemption playing out.

The star that bore witness (Matt.2:9-10) and the rocks that held their tongues in worship (Lk. 19:40).  And then, when the Redeemer held arms wide and let breath go, creation couldn’t hold back any longer.  The Son, in whom was all light and life, had darkened, and so the Sun could no longer shine (Lk. 23:45).  The earth gave a violent shudder and the rocks broke open, maybe from horror, maybe from worship they could no longer silence (Matt. 27:51).  How could Life itself die?  How could the creation open up her cold ground to bury the Creator?

Though redemption was secured that day, creation still groans and labors toward the consummation.  These waiting trees, bound in time and curse, they are still waiting and watching as the Story of redemption continues to unfurl.  And I can’t help but wonder if they don’t glory over redemption’s victory every time.  One more life redeemed, one more reminder of the redemption they too will one day receive, when all things can return to full obedience to God’s intended design.

This past weekend, my extended family gathered to sing and to feast and to rejoice over the life and death of one of our own beloved ones.  Yes, mourning too, but oh, how the grave is swallowed up in victory!  The mourning doesn’t stand out to me, the piercing joy is what I remember.  And as we gathered yet another time to sing together, these words ran through my mind.  My sweet loved one, he lived a lot of life far from God and from his family.  But in his last years, he came near and he found his Redeemer.  And the wasted years were swallowed up in joy and in victory and blessed assurance.

IMG_1445*photo credit: Catie Councell

 

My loved one, they said he smiled as he died.  That his mouth hung open in a small smile as he breathed his last; but two hours later, his mouth closed in a full-on grin.

He went out of this world in JOY and the Father saw fit to lead Him out in peace.  The very mountains and hills broke forth into singing before the One who carried him to glory, and the trees of the fields clapped their hands with a raucous, fist-pumping roar of praise (Isa.55:12).  The very creation can’t help but rejoice in God’s acts of redemption.  The beauty of the Gospel… there’s nothing like it!  You can almost hear it, if you listen.  The heart hears the testimony, because there is no language where the voice is not heard (Ps.19:1-4).  The heavens declare the glory of God, and day to day pours forth speech.  “For since the beginning of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom.1:20).

The Gospel is the story creation labors to tell, season in and season out.  Redemption is what makes creation sing, for she knows her full release from corruption is coming.  What a mercy that every day God puts the Gospel visibly on display in the created order for all our senses to experience, to the praise of His glorious grace.

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope. {Rom.8:24}

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