Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dreaming of Another Season

Looking up, I saw the van's thermometer registered a sweltering 98. Just another day in a long, humid string made unbearable by an early-September heat wave.

While September 22 is the official first day of fall, I've spent my summer longing for the hot season to end and this next cooler season to engulf me. And I must confess: with each passing day, I'm getting more antsy.

The main problem is a few weeks ago, my children and I tasted those first hints of fall weather. We relished in cool mornings spent outdoors, unconcerned about how high the sun was in the sky above. "It's not too hot," my oldest repeatedly told me.

Full of hope for what was to come, we decorated the house for fall. Pilgrims and Indians now stand at attention before a ceramic turkey by the front door. Ruby and flame-orange-colored leaves twist up the stair rail and spill across the mantle. Faux pomegranates, grapes, and dried multi-colored corn still in brittle husks all spill forth from a woven cornucopia.

Wyatt told his daddy, "It's fall inside, but not fall outside yet." Then, last Thursday, he was overjoyed to find the first painted autumn leaves adorning the grass in our backyard. He, too, is catching fall-fever.

This waiting for something better, for the next season in life--sadly, it seems to describe me more than I want to admit.

For starters, as a Christian, I know there's a better place being prepared for me. And if I'm not too careful, it's all too easy to get so wrapped up in waiting for the abundant life in heaven that I just disregard the thought that there can be abundant life when I'm surrounded by such rampant sin here on this earth.

But more than that, Jesus told His disciples, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10). There is good reason to believe He wasn't just talking about an abundant life to come but also about abundant living now in Christ...and not just if your life is full of good circumstances, but if it's full of bad ones as well.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul is in prison. Talk about bad circumstances. Then, in Chapter 3, he spends the first nineteen verses expounding upon a seemingly impossible situation--unity between Jews and Gentiles in the body of Christ. Paul states: "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (v. 6).

Although it may be difficult to conceive of in modern times, the mystery Paul refers to was ground-breaking news. As Bible study author and speaker Priscilla Shirer* explains this passage, it was as if Paul was suggesting the creation of a third "race" of believers that would include both Jews and Gentiles.

In Paul's time, non-Christian Jews and Gentiles didn't mix. And even Spirit-infused Christian Jews and Gentiles had problems with each other. Paul's writings are full of examples of Jews trying to infiltrate the Gentile Christian church and get them to become more "Jewish" in custom and doctrine. Also, both Jew and Gentile Christians were persecuted, stoned, and even killed. In short, it wasn't an easy thing to claim Christ.

Because of these hardships, such an idea of Christian unity in the church must have seemed impossible and unimaginable to Paul's original audience just as the idea of African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Caucasians living together in harmony seemed unimaginable to my American ancestors.

Even so, at the end of the chapter, Paul commands his readers to praise God in abundant living: "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever" (v. 20-21).

In the midst of a life full of hardships and impossibilities, Paul admonishes Christians to live abundantly, knowing that God can make all things possible because He has the power.

Now is the time to start living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Not when your (and my) children outgrow whatever horrid stage they're in right now. Not when your finances or the economy improve. Not when you are at the peak of health. Not when you're finished with school or have that dream job you've waited for or when you finally move to your dream destination or house.


Quit waiting for the next season. Quit waiting for all your impossibilities to become possible.

Winter, spring, summer, or fall--just live passionately, unashamedly for Christ and in God's possible-making power.

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