Thursday, August 2, 2012

Restless Patience

The rocky mountaintops stretch across the Canmore skyline. I breathe the fresh mountain air and am amazed at the awesome display of God's beauty and majesty. If only I could take this foretaste of heaven home with me--this moment of quiet when God's presence seems so large and my joy seems so full.

But I am well aware that these carefree highs are not a perpetual experience. They are interspersed with genuine difficulty, fatigue, sickness and toil. The temptation to escape the ugly aspects of life, to create a false heaven on earth, is strong. A mountain view, the calming ambiance of a spa, fun with friends, a day at the beach or a favourite pastime cannot deal with the problem of sin. These lovely blessings cannot eradicate the difficult parts of life in a fallen world. They were never meant to.

It is hard to wait. The tension is acute. The beauty of redemption clashes with the impact of sin. Christ has saved me, and yet I wait for the "hope of righteousness." I wait for Christ to return and make all things new.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait eagerly for it with patience. Romans 8:25

One author I read recently called this tension "restless patience." I thought it was so fitting.  He expands on this idea by quoting John Chapman, "We must learn to be content with the dissatisfaction of not yet being what we one day will be." It seems like a contradiction of terms, but I feel the truth of it in my own heart. A contented dissatisfaction pervades.

I am confronted with this truth: we do not need heaven on earth to be happy. We need a new way to interpret our circumstances. We need to see the transient nature of the ugly and the ever progressing nature of Christ's transforming work in our lives and world. Our joy does not increase as life gets easier. Our joy increases as we are transformed to become more like Christ.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18)
Christ Jesus has conquered sin and death. The veil that separated us from the glory of God is torn in two. Those who trust in him have the unique privilege of beholding the glory of God. Not only this, but we have great hope for change. We are being transformed "from one degree of glory to another."

It is hard to imagine that the joy I felt gazing at the mountains was only a token of what we will experience when we see him face to face. But for now, my heart safely trusts Him and I wait with contented dissatisfaction for the new creation.