Summary: We have an anxious longing for "Glory."
Our Anxious Longing
Englewood Baptist Church
Sunday morning, May 4, 2008
Read the scripture.
Today, as we recognize our graduates, I am reminded of the present sufferings these students have been facing. For four years, their lives have been filled with deadlines, book reviews, research papers, group projects, the nerve-racking delivery of speeches, the assignments that just keep coming and coming and coming like the drip from a toddler’s nose in December. It just won’t stop.
But what makes it all worthwhile is that platform hanging out there in eternity, that glorious stage, where a scroll of paper is passed like a baton, a thunderous applause follows, and freedom is found on the other side. Our seniors anxiously long for that moment of glory.
In many ways, all of us identify with the pilgrimage of a student. As Romans 8:17 states, we all have present sufferings that will one day run their course and fall into the river of glory. And this glory inadequately described by Paul, is simply an incomparable glory. What does that mean exactly? Glory is the Bible’s word that describes heaven’s dazzling magnificence. Glory is what’s waiting on that platform when we graduate from this earth. But if you look in the Bible for descriptions, you will be disappointed for God does not provide many details about all that is waiting on the other side of the river.
In fact, in Scripture, the most helpful descriptions of glory simply tell us what heaven will not have. There will no crying, no pain, no death, no mourning. Those things will not be there. Ok, but what is there? What is glory? The simple answer is this: You will have to wait and see.
Trading Spaces is back on TV. Did you notice? Yeah, Paige is back. Trading Spaces was perhaps the most watched program on Television for a few years—even Seinfeld couldn’t hang with this show. And the genius of the show is that it a 30 minute crescendo. It begins with a before picture of a hideously boring space—a bedroom with mismatched furniture, grotesque wallpaper, and carpet from the disco era. The space needs to be made new. And so these people trade houses, and completely remodel, and the climactic moment of the show, the part you just don’t want to miss, is the REVEAL. The moment you have been waiting for, when the people can open their eyes, and see the beauty of their new home. It’s supposed to be this exciting, thrilling moment where the prize is unveiled.
In a sense, that is what the New Testament teaches about heaven. God is keeping his hand over your eyes, but one day soon, you will see glory. And you won’t start crying like some of those women on Trading Spaces. No, Hilde didn’t design this space. There will be no disappointment in heaven. You will be overwhelmed by the weight of glory.
C.S. Lewis wrote an article by that title, “The Weight of Glory,” and this is what he says about the GREAT REVEAL that awaits us…
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
What a vivid way of describing the waiting process that we find ourselves in. “The leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor” that glory awaits us—an incomparable glory.
And in this passage of Scripture, Paul describes the feeling of anxiousness that is building across the planet—a groaning for something we don’t even fully comprehend. All that we know is that it’s far better than what we see around us.
Now, there are three specific groanings that are taking place even now. I want to show you these in Scripture. There is the groaning of creation, the groaning of believers, and the groaning of the Holy Spirit. Before we dive into this, let’s address one question: what is a groaning?
A groaning is an audible expression of anguish due to physical, emotional, or spiritual pain.
The easiest way to think about groaning is to think about what your stomach does in church when you skip breakfast. Have you ever been in church when your stomach began to groan? It starts off just a little rumble. Then it begins to build and we try to do everything to stop it. We muffle the sound with our arms, as if that helps! We stick a piece of gum in our mouth. That doesn’t solve it. Your stomach keeps crying out louder and louder.