The grace to wait patiently
Romans 9: 1-5 (NIV)
1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people,those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
So many people carry huge burdens that make them sad. Christians are no different. One burden that as a minister I often hear about is the sadness that a mother or a father feels knowing that their children have rejected the faith that means so much to them. Faith in God doesn’t come along with the family name. We can’t own it and pass it on like an heirloom. It’s God’s gift and it’s his promise. It is only grace that can reconcile us to this belief.
Here in Romans 9 the Apostle Paul connects with that feeling of sadness and confesses that he would gladly be cursed if his fellow Jews could only see what he could see and feel. If they could come to realise that Jesus is Messiah. He then goes on to explain how faith in Messiah is not racially determined or even sexual transmitted like a gene in the body. Faith in Jesus he explains comes through Abraham but not through his sperm but through God’s covenant with him and Abraham believing the promise saw it being fulfilled in part but not in whole. But he lived in faith believing that for which he hoped. It was grace that was to be the reconciling covenant of God.
Back to the burdens we carry. We cannot live another person’s life for them. But we can commit them into the hand of God. I remember a teenager who I knew extremely well telling me they no longer believed in God. I remember saying, “Well you may not believe in God but God believes in you and further more you were baptised in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And that’s a promise I believe.”
A few years later that teenager confirmed their baptismal vows for themselves. It took time. But it happened. Paul believed in the end God will fulfil his promise to Abraham and I believe we who are Christian parents need to be willing like Paul to let each one find their own way to Jesus. Faith is not a birthright — it’s a gift from God. It just takes some people longer than others to open the gift. Those of us who know what is in the gift need also to be reconciled to waiting and that only comes through grace.
You know the sadness I carry
You know the love I have received and given
You know my failures and my fussing
You know the beginning and end of all things
Give me that extra confidence to believe against all odds
To trust in your promises
To believe that Baptism is not a magic potion
But your promise to me as it was to Abraham
Bless my children and grandchildren
May they become the blessing to others
Who as yet don’t know of your promises.
Give me the patience to be reconciled to this by grace.