One of David Crowder’s songs talks about “afflictions eclipsed by glory.” I think the starting point for his wording might be 2 Cor 4:17, 18:
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Today I’ve been blessed with some quiet time in a coffee shop and I’m asking myself, “how much is my life marked by complaint at my very light afflictions?” and, “how much is my experience marked by anticipation of that eternal weight of glory?”
As I am engaging these questions, I would have to acknowledge that my life is often focused more on the problems I am encountering than the significance, value and beauty –that is forever-after and full of mattering, that God is preparing in me- beyond anything that could compare in this world!
At times I am intrigued, mystified and filled with a holy expectation about what the glory that God is preparing might be all about. I will intentionally spend time contemplating the glory that God revealed in Jesus while he was enfleshed on this planet-especially on the cross. I sense my passion for Jesus and my abandon to his kingdom multiply as I spend any time remembering that revealed glory. But, often, I allow my transitory afflictions to eclipse the beauty and glory. I wonder how much I steal from both myself and those around me when my focus is complaint rather than anticipatory amazement?
Our breakthrough team at Urban Abbey is a small community of just five people who have moved into a beleaguered community and decrepit building. We are seeking the Spirit to birth a church. Every day constitutes a felt financial risk- none of us receive salaries. Recently, for a number of days, I had been focused on praying that God would meet our financial needs. In the midst of that journey, God intervened. He asked me why I was so desperately asking for the finances we required instead of the faith we lacked to trust God with not only the finances but the whole mission.
My inability to provide adequate finances for the staff is a light and momentary problem – meant to reorder my perspective towards the unseen, the eternal and the faith God wants to form in all of us. When I move from asking for the “seen” (money) to anticipating the “unseen” (greater faith), I find myself suffused with peace as I rest in my great God of glory.
I think that instead of focusing on doing a “great work” for God, we at the Abbey must refocus on the “glorious work” God is doing in us. As we are surrendered to God’s work in us, we will notice God’s work through us and begin to constitute our shared life as a sign of that glory rather than as a stressed out or harried emblem of our own striving.