Romans 4:13

Saturday, March 11
Rev. Ole Schenk

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Where are you? What’s the quality of the terrain where you encounter Christ? Today’s verse from Romans insists on just how expansive that question can be: encountering Christ through the promises of God’s word opens up for faith nothing less than what Paul names as “inheriting the world.” This is grandiose to be sure! But we need not jump immediately to delusions of power and grandeur. This is Lent after all. Encountering Christ means you and I are no longer at the center of the terrain.

I often feel that the terrain where I try to find myself is hopelessly divided up without any wholeness: screens of phone and computer, immediate tasks that weigh up so fast with care and responsibility, emotions inescapably gnawing away at me. When Troy and I hiked along the intricate rocks and wind-swayed pine trees of the Shawnee Forest, the sun played gleaming chords upon the rocks and tree shadows cast silhouettes far ahead of us. I felt for a moment I belonged to a terrain that welled up gratitude within me.

Through the encounter with Christ in the living words that rise to meet us from the pages of Scripture, you and I, we are so graced to belong to such an expansive terrain: a forest of crosses endured by all the saints who’ve traveled the way before us and sojourn with us now, the saints who’ve crossed that creek of baptism and who daily pass the rough hills that plunge us down in dying to sin, and the gleaming of the rocks rising on the steps in faith. That forest of crosses springs new green reaching-out needles that sway in the breezes of the Spirit’s power, and the shadows these trees cast overshadow ahead of us all the false gods and idols and the depths of sin and despair that would try to claim and conquer us. 

In Lent, perhaps, it’s the roughness of the terrain of discipleship that grows with firm profile. Though through baptism you and I belong to Christ, this is Christ’s own way, which cannot be smoothness and ease even if it’s truly fully good.    

Holy God, I seek you. May your word call me with all the cares I carry out onto the terrain that your word creates before, behind, and all around me. Give to me the formation of repentance and the perseverance in hope that I need today. Amen.

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