Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Reflections on One Long Hot Summer and Romans 8

One of my absolute favorite chapters in the whole Bible is Romans 8.  If I was to be stranded on a desert Island and had to choose one chapter to take with me, it would be Romans 8.  Romans 8 has so many wonderful words on grace, creation, new creation, hope and of course—Jesus!  One of my favorite sections of Romans 8 comes in verse 22-23  

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

Something about these words of creation groaning and we ourselves groaning in the pains of childbirth seems to speak to me with a much greater punch in the dog days of summer of late August in Louisiana.  The first part of the summer is always hot down here but in July most of the really hot days are alleviated by afternoon showers, which, though making things steamier, provided a pleasant respite from the oppressive heat.  However the last few weeks of August seem to have a way of becoming nearly unbearable.  With the last days of summer comes a low level depression that sets in as people try to avoid being outside for more than a few minutes at a time and find themselves cooped up in homes and offices all day.

There have been several days in the last few weeks when I was bound and determined to do a little reading on the back porch and enjoy the sounds of birds and insects and the beauty of trees in the early hours of morning.  And yet my weak will gave in and retreated to more hospitable climes within just a few minutes.  And yet it is in those moments, sweating under the oppression of summer, that words penned by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8 begin to speak to me with particular clarity… creation is groaning… I am groaning… all of us are groaning.  I find that by the last 2-3 weeks of August I am longing and groaning along with the world of nature around me for the cool of autumn.   I can’t help but wonder if this longing for summer to be over isn’t somehow part of the very narrative of redemption and new creation embedded in the very seasons of our world.  As the opening verses of Psalm 19 declare:

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;    the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech;    night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words;    no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,    their words to the ends of the world. 

I am writing these words on that first cool day that has come in 5 months… that day that I have been groaning and waiting for.  And it is every bit as wonderful as I imagined.  Yet I don’t want to simply enjoy this day but rather to let it be a space in which I can remember the bigger narrative, the groaning of creation that will once be liberated by the return of Christ.  I wan to use this day as a springboard to join with creation in praising the King.  So here’s to a beautiful day at the end of a long summer and here’s to the beautiful day of which we still eagerly await when our King Jesus will once and for all set things right.

1 comment:

Pi Man said...

Ageed, Bro. And picking a favorite chapter in the bible would be tough for me. Though if you asked me to pick my favorite book of the bible, that'd be easy: Romans, hands down. I don't know if I ever talked about it much, but I've been completing (slowly) a 2 1/2 year theology program on my own known as the Disciple Study Series. Certainly I've studied on my own and with others for many years, but this is more of an accepted theological program put out by Cokesbury. Each course is 32 weeks long, etc. Anyway, never had I had such an intense immersion into Romans. I couldn't get enough. It left me in awe, speechless, and so humbled and blessed to have spent so many wonderful hours in its magnitude. Thanks for sharing as always. TA