Spirit Groanings

With so much focus of  Jesus and the cross last week, I have had a lot of thoughts swirling around my mind. I find it interesting, as TX kind of alluded to yesterday, we seem to have the Spirit groaning in us as we grow in our relationship with God.

It’s not just the relationship though, it’s knowledge. The more we read, learn and ponder Scriptures and the redemption stories, so much more, like layers of an onion (sorry- writing this as I am fixin’ dinner) is revealed for us to contemplate.

So at yesterday’s Easter Service, our Pastor’s message  reflected on the words of Isaiah, in the description of Jesus and what He would suffer- written more than 700 years before Jesus was born. I’ve often read the passages in chapter 53, but listening and reading it again, something stuck out to me and got me to thinking.

Isaiah 53:5 reads, But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Now most of that makes perfect sense to us after seeing and realizing all what Jesus suffered for our sake, but the part chastisement of our peace was upon Him I’ve never really considered before.

I like the way Matthew Henry puts it in his commentary, “…by submitting to these chastisements, slew the enmity, and settled an amity, between God and man; he made peace by the blood of his cross…

The Bible talks a lot about peace, and it’s something that I try to acquire daily. My mind is always busy as my body. Even when it’s quiet around me, there is an anxiety in me and my mind won’t shut up long enough to have peace.

Some believers have a hard time finding peace, due to what they have to see, experience and do on the battle field. Others have a sense of satisfaction and contentment, yet remain restless and still more of us just have a torn, aching kind of restlessness…

What is it about peace, that Jesus paid in pain so we could even have His peace, that we still can’t quite experience it?

Read that scripture again

So many of us know the whole verse- we know He was wounded and bruised, and by His stripes, we are healed, but how many of us have considered that his work included reconciling our sins and being at peace knowing God has forgiven and forgotten them all?

I don’t think it’s lack of faith or doubt that causes us anxiety, because I know that while I find myself lacking peace, I am well contented knowing that I belong to Jesus and nothing can separate me from Him, and also at peace knowing that He will welcome me home some day.

I think the restlessness I feel comes from the longing just to be with Him. I know a lot of us get tired in this life, although I can only imagine that so many other believers around the world look at things a little differently than we do in the West. I would think that some maybe even have more of the mind/heart set of Paul, who contentedly- peacefully accepts the chains for Christ. And yet, look forward to the day when they will be free of all that and truly rest in His peace.

Does it mean we’re weaker than others that we are ready to leave this life behind, even though there may be more life to be lived here? I don’t think so. For me at least, I do find myself having the same belief that For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. My heart and soul are at peace with that, yet my heart and  soul also longs and waits for the true everlasting peace that Jesus bought for me along with all of my sins.

Maybe it’s that I confuse peace with rest, as peace is freedom from war and violence (war with our flesh and spirit, physical wars and violence of this world and between good and evil) and rest being freedom from labor and activity which I also long for. It’s the struggle with both that I wrestle with.

There’s a part near the end of Tolkien’s “Return of the King” that has always made me bawl yet smile at the same time because I believe that’s the Spirit groaning as it is what I feel so deeply.  When Frodo is leaving Middle Earth to go into the West, and his best friend Sam has to say good bye…

Where are you going, Master?’ cried Sam, though at last he understood what was happening.

‘To the Havens, Sam,’ said Frodo.

‘And I can’t come.’

‘No, Sam. Not yet, anyway, not further than the Havens. Though you too were a Ring-bearer, if only for a little while. Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.

No, my heart and yours (if it’s experiencing the same) won’t always be torn in two, and some day in His perfect timing, we’ll know what it is like…

The grey-rain curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

I can find tremendous peace in that. Thank You Jesus.