Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons...

Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is another one of those times when a passage pops up thanks to the daily lectionary and I am reminded of the Bible’s potential to yield glorious poetry, even where you least expect it. These verses are fairly well known, I suppose, though while I out of context could place them as scripture I might not instantly be able to identify them as from Paul’s letter to the Romans and certainly would not know they’re from the eight chapter without a little bit of pleading. But oh, do they sing:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Those are my favorite portions, but the entire passage is worth reading over and again. They reveal the absolute passion Paul has for sharing the love of Jesus with Christians everywhere and for focusing on the way life can be altered by faith. And not everyday life, but the big picture of eternal life.

I feel I spend a lot of time, with this project specifically, focusing on small-picture issues, the day-to-day stuff that makes up the parenting grind. That’s now without its purpose, of course. But one of the ways to get through the everyday stuff is to keep aware of the wide angle. No trouble, no hardship, will keep us from the love of Jesus.

This, and other similar lessons, can be quite difficult to communicate to children, especially children in the heat of anger or sadness about a given situation. The last thing a child wants (and I am remembering and including my own experience as a teenager here) is some “wise” adult to come along to offer perspective. Teens, especially, can grasp the big picture. They know failing to get a date for the big dance will not take anything away from their loving family or safe home or keep them out of college or chip away at their health, let alone the matters of the soul and the eternal love of God. But they’d still rather focus on the problem at hand.

Younger children have not yet developed that kind of understanding or respect for the provisions of life. I’m not yet sure how old our kids will be before they stop taking for granted how great they have it, living with their married parents in a quiet subdivision in a nice little suburb, going to great public schools, never worrying whether there will be dinner on the table or money to pay for medicine if they get sick and so on. Part of my job as a parent is to instill that perspective without beating the “You don’t know how good you have it” drum into oblivion.

And yet another part is to take all of that Earthly stuff and set it in proper context to what really matters, the love of Christ. And again, to do so without being disrespectful to what the kids actually think is important, and as any parent knows, children are prone to treat even the most inconsequential issues as matters of life or death. I don’t know if this kind of perspective that can be taught, or if it can be gained only through life experience. Perhaps it can be taught but parents aren’t the best ones for passing along the lesson.

I’m trying to think of when (or, honestly, if) I learned such lessons and if my parents had much to do with that kind of education. The more I search my memory the more I grow disappointed I can’t come up with a specific anecdote or turning point of when I shifted from self-centered to having an outward view. Maybe that means I’m still much more inward-looking than I like to think I am. Maybe it just speaks to the notion of such shifts being gradual and organic. But I suppose everyone is different, or maybe it’s just late and I’m not good at remembering such things.

What I am going do to is work on keeping this notion close to my heart going forward. While I still will have to face very real and practical and decidedly un-Godly matters (like the as-yet unresolved issues with my old Buick), I must remind myself daily of the larger truth that God will not abandon me and that nothing on this planet can drive a wedge between God and me. Through Jesus, I can conquer anything that might try to get in the way. That’s empowering — as long as I allow myself to be empowered.

A prayer for July 10:

Lord, I thank you for your undying love. I thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus, and for the knowledge that only you can judge and condemn. Please help me remember to keep proper perspective and to know nothing on this planet will separate us from your love. Please also help me to show my children the wonder of your love and the power it has over us all. Grant that I might show them the way to understanding the insignificance of the things of this world in the light of your amazing grace. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment