"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us--set us right with him, make us fit for him--we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he had already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary--we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:1-5 (MSG), 4-5 RSV)!
Wow! I haven’t ever read this version of Romans! Romans can be bit convoluted -- Paul thinks, and writes(!) like I often do, a kind of free flowing, wordy discourse. This paraphrase made it a bit easier to understand, I think. What Paul is saying is that we may think we’re acting alone in accepting Christ as our Savior. The truth is: God’s already taken the first step--He’s all ready for us! We thought we were planning a surprise party, but guess what? The surprise is ours!
I think of the story of the Prodigal Son--we are so much like that younger son, aren’t we? We go plodding down the road that leads us to the father‘s house, head hung down, beaten down physically, emotionally, spiritually, and determine we’ll finally admit we are unable to live without our Father--and we are willing to live on his property as a servant, rather than be without him. Rather than assigning the wayward child to the servant’s quarters, the Father runs, jubilantly to his child. He is so excited he can’t wait for the child to come the entire way home. He leaps and runs and calls out in joy, welcome home! That’s how God is too! We think it’s all our idea to turn our lives over to Christ. But guess what? Christ already cleared the way for us!
And there’s more! We continue to rejoice because once we accept Christ as our savior -- life only gets better! Oh, we will certainly have problems, struggles, probably even some heavy burdens to bear. But we know we are no longer alone. We know we have our Savior to bear our burdens with us. He is our constant companion, laboring with us that last mile to the Father. He holds us up, lest we stumble and fall before we reach our destination. He is there for us through it all and will never, ever leave us alone. Reason indeed to continue rejoicing!
Passionate patience. I like that term. When I’m in that state, my husband calls it restlessness. And that’s what it is. Not only is God excited about what He’s doing in me, I’m anxious for Him to reveal it, so I can get to it! I am, admittedly, more passionate than I am patient, but God works with me anyway! I long to run out in the “wide open spaces of God’s grace and love.” Jesus leads us there. And there’s more! “we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” It almost sounds like those “infomercials” that air late at night: But wait! There’s even more! For a limited time only, you get twice the bargain. The difference is, we’ve already got it!
I hope in light of the amazing grace of God, you will remain alert for whatever God wants of you next. And that you will rejoice with me because, we know that “suffering produces endurance, . and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”
Blessings on your journey,