BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
MARCH 8, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“For the creation waits with eager expectation for the the sons of God to be revealed.” (Rom. 8:19)
The springboard for this writing came from an e-mail, in which a friend made the statement that she was blessed by a passage from Romans 8, because she said, “It took away the feeling I’d been fighting of not having anything to look forward to in retirement.” She concluded her thoughts by saying, “Thank God He didn’t say He would direct our paths only when young.” Her comment made me realize that I also have been dealing with the feeling of having nothing to look forward to since Lenny crossed Jordan.
Paul’s observations in Romans are comforting because he assures us that the sufferings which we, the heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, must endure, are not the end of the story. Jonathan Mitchell’s translation of Rom. 8:18: “You see, I have come to a reasoned conclusion (or: I am reckoning and logically considering) that the effects of the sensible experiences – sufferings, impressions, passions or feelings – of the current season (or: of the situation fitted to the present time) [are] not equivalent (do not balance the scales; are not of equal value or worth) [being] face to face with the glory (or: [are] of insufficient weight when put in balance to the manifestation which calls forth praise as well as the reputation and good opinion) which is progressively about to be disclosed unto us, and for us (or: unveiled into our midst; revealed to and [enter] into us).
In verse 19, Paul speaks of something that has been dear to my heart for decades, the manifestation or unveiling of the sons of God. “For the looking away and watching with the head stretched forward alertly (or: peak expectation; premonition; intuitive opinion; or: = the concentrated and undivided focus) of the creation is constantly receiving and taking away from out of the unveiling of God’s sons (or: = the uncovering and revealing of folks who have the character and qualities of God; or: the disclosure pertaining to the sons of God; or: the unveiling and revelation which belongs to God’s sons; or, as an ablative: the disclosure from God’s sons)” (Jonathan Mitchell’s translation).
Lenny and I both looked forward together to this glorious event, which Isaiah described this way: “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isa. 40:5) That verse has burned in my heart for decades, beginning when the Spirit quickened it to me shortly after I had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In my youth and naiveté about scripture and God’s dealings in our lives, I enthusiastically deduced that this manifestation of the sons was going to happen in my life time.
When I voiced this to Harry Fox, who has been a mentor and friend since about 1969, he smiled and replied, “Maybe so, honey child, but it also may take another thousand years before it happens.”
That wasn’t at all what I wanted to hear, but the thing about Bible promises is that they don’t happen in front of CNN ’s cameras. They often sneak up on us and it isn’t until we look back on our lives that we can see God was at work, when we had no inkling at the time that He was there.
When God sovereignly brought Lenny into my life, it was the fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy to me that He was bringing me a husband. I was not thrilled, having decided to give up any thought of remarrying. How glad I am that He didn’t listen to my grumbling about how I didn’t need a husband.
When God closed us down in California and moved us here to Neosho, MO, in 1998, I hoped that this was the beginning of the manifestation of the sons. Lenny was sent to the Baptist men’s Sunday School to share the light and life of Christ in our lives beyond what they knew.
Lenny never subscribed to my idea that when God healed his physical body, the men would see and believe. Lenny knew that only God opens our eyes and if He does not, then they remain closed. My interest in Lenny’s healing went beyond what the Baptist men might or might not think. Personally, I wanted Lenny to be healed, to be made whole again. He wanted to be healed as well and had seen healings many times in people he prayed for, but above all, he knew that God’s will is the deciding factor. It was the hope that God would heal him completely that kept me going, even as he lay dying in the hospital.
The epiphany that came to me recently is that God sometimes spares us from knowing what His will is, to protect us. When He said about Lenny, “He’ll be OK,” that kept my hopes afloat. Lenny himself often said that “Death is the perfect healing.” My epiphany was that perhaps God did not tell me in advance that Lenny was headed home because He knew I would collapse in a heap.
Hope keeps our heads above water, our eyes on Him, and our minds comforted by the power of His indestructible life. After Lenny passed, the Lord did ask me if I was angry at Him. My reply? “No Lord, You are my life. How can I be angry at YOU?”
My friend wondered what she had to look forward to after she retires from her job and I realized when I read that statement that I have wondered what I have to look forward to now that Lenny is gone physically? As I wrote that, Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5, came to me: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing 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.” The King James Version is that that “hope maketh not ashamed,” Ashamed of what we may wonder?
Jonathan’s translation of verse 5 makes it clear: “Now the expectation (or: expectant hope) does not habitually bring down shame (disgrace; dishonor; thus: disappointment), because God’s love (the urge toward reunion and the unambiguous, uniting acceptance from God) has been poured out in a gush and shed forth so that it now floods within our hearts, permeating the core of our being, through the Set-apart Breath-effect (or: Holy Spirit; Sacred Attitude) being given to us (in us; for us).”
The manifestation or revealing of the sons, like so many other things, is not a one time event, but a progressive, continuous process of God revealing Himself to us, day by day, month by month, year by year.
How uplifting and wonderful that God comes to us in our lowest moments, when the hope we had seems to be ebbing away; He pours out Himself, His love and His comfort “in a gush and shed forth,” flooding our hearts and minds, permeating the core of our being through the Holy Spirit. His hope sustains us as we come to the end of one era in our lives and enter into a new and different one.
I’m not used to living alone, but the glorious truth really is that we are never alone because He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. It’s not horrible to be alone and in fact has some positive aspects, but the change from what we’ve known to the new construct that God has called us to can be frightening at times.
When I was younger, I had lots to look forward to, but how wonderful it is to know, as my friend also said in her email to me, that God is not Father to just the young, but to the old as well. The great and precious promises given us speak to our growing in grace and knowledge of Him who is our life. As we grow older, we see God in a deeper way than we did in our youth. As He said to Abraham, God Himself is our very great reward, and that will never disappoint us, ever!
God only moves in one direction: FORWARD. In my uncertain moments about the future, I ask His help to leave the sorrows of the past behind, taking comfort in Paul’s glorious affirmation: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all Generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Eph. 3:20)
Make it so, Father; make it so.