"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Two weeks ago Ellen and I returned from a trip to Alabama. Unlike most trips home, we weren't there to see family and friends. This time we came with a group from our church to aid in the disaster relief efforts after the recent tornadoes. We were primarily stationed in Tuscaloosa and the small community of Webster's Chapel, which was almost completely destroyed. People were living in tents next to the ruins of their homes.
Ellen mentioned to me that our trip reminded her that this simply isn't the way the world was meant to be. I immediately thought of the verse I posted above. Something is wrong with our world. Creation itself is groaning, and sometimes we can feel those groans more intensely than others. Poor people with no insurance aren't supposed to have everything they own blown away by the wind. Mothers aren't supposed to have their happy toddlers suddenly stolen away by a strong storm. Creation is groaning, humans are groaning, it seems like everything is groaning.
Luckily, creation isn't just groaning, but it's groaning in the pains of childbirth - and that means that something is coming. Our adoption as sons and the renewal of our bodies. What struck Ellen two weeks ago was that amidst all of the groaning we saw in those small Alabama towns, something was pointing to an inevitable redemption and restoration. If I had been astute enough to recognize it I would have told it to so many people we met. But, oddly enough, the people we met standing in the spots where their homes once were seemed to already know. They were smiling.
As my friend Andy Byers writes in his book, we are living between the Edens. That phrase always made me think of the end of The Last Battle where Lewis writes, "...All of you are...dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning." I groan in anticipation of stepping into that morning, the second Eden.
Read another account of our trip here.
See all of our pictures here.