I left off the last post this morning with a note toward balance.
It was kind of an afterthought. The post was about patience and waiting and I ended with just a bit about what that waiting should be like. Maybe I should have said a little more about that.
While we, as Christians in this age after the resurrection but before the Second Coming, live in the tension between the “already” and the “not yet.” That’s old news to any of you readers who have spent much time in church. It’s kind of a cliché in our circles, I guess.
But I thought more about what I wrote this morning as I pedaled up and down the hills and hollows here in my home State of West Virginia on my daily bike ride. I do almost 17 miles on a “short day,” and that’s what I did today. This exercise in the open air – and today in the sunlight – always seems to get the mind stirring.
And as it stirred this morning, and as I thought again and again about this morning’s post, some language from Eugene Peterson’s translation of the New Testament (The Message) popped into my head. It relates to the concept of waiting, which I wrote about this morning. But, like so much of Peterson’s translations, it gives us just a little more emphasis here and there. I love Peterson’s translations of the Epistles, particularly Galatians and Romans. He has said that his aim in translating was to give the reader not a literal, word for word translation, but a translation that would be faithful to the look and feel of the original writing. That is, this writing would sound to us modern readers – have the same “ring” as – the original Greek would have had to the early churches.
Peterson translates a couple of passages in Romans that deal directly with the kind of “waiting in tension” that I wrote about this morning. Look at this:
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!
Look at that! Patience, yes, but passionate patience that includes great expectancy; that expects surprise and fulfillment.
Here is one more bit, this one around Romans 8: 23-24 or so:
These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Don’t you think these passages help to understand the nature of the Christian’s waiting? It’s not a dull, grinding thing that is too timid to hope for much. Rather, it is “alert expectancy,” “joyful expectancy.”