Lectio Divina Reflections (3)

Hi, I’m Tanya Lyons, one of Calvary’s mission partners, serving with Youth With A Mission. I attended Calvary from 2007-2009 when I lived in Edmonton, before moving to Vancouver, Spain, and now Scotland. I worship at Calvary whenever I visit family in Edmonton. I enjoy reading, Swing dancing, taking walks in the Scottish countryside, writing, and drinking black coffee.  Here are my reflections on the passage of the week, Romans 8:1-8.

Is it even possible to approach Scripture without bringing my assumptions, opinions or biases with me?

This passages starts with an incredible declaration of good news – there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! We have been set free, by God, from something we were powerless to gain freedom over. Sin and death ruled us, and the Law could not free us, but we have been freed nonetheless – by the Spirit of Christ! Because of Christ we can enter a life of peace and freedom. With his Spirit we can walk in sync with the Spirit, setting our minds on things that are important to him. Walking in sync with the flesh is a life of hostility toward God, and it leads to death.

I have been set free – free from what brought pain and death to my life and to this world. I have been rescued, set free, so I can walk in the realm of life – and what a great place it is to be! The Spirit invites me to set my mind on him – on the life he offers, on his freedom and joy. Obsessing about the flesh – its brokenness and sin – my shortcomings and the shortcomings of others, will only bring me down and cut me off from the source of life.

It’s tempting to approach sin, pain, suffering and death as something I have to fix or overcome, and to gradually edge God out of the picture until all that’s left is the broken world and my efforts to make things better.

This passage reminds me sin and death were too powerful for me and I needed a rescue. And now, instead of giving up hope, I am invited to turn my thoughts, my affection, and my heart toward the Spirit. My effort and self-discipline aren’t going to change things – I’ve already tried that and it didn’t work. The better way, and God’s invitation to me, is to turn my attention toward him, remembering the freedom he offers, letting him lead me into the place of life and peace in his presence.

It’s such a gift to be able to do something with the pain, grief and longings I feel: bring them to him, set my mind on the freedom he has gained for us, and put my trust in his willingness to do the same for the world he loves.

Jesus, thank you for being my rescuer, and for being the hope of all creation. I’m so grateful for the way you pursued me in my lostness and darkness, for finding a way to rescue me from sin, death, emptiness and fear. Life with you, life with the Spirit, has brought more life and peace than I realized was possible. Yet Lord, as you know, there is so much in your world that is hostile toward you. There is so much death and pain and condemnation. There are so many who don’t know of, or can’t comprehend, the freedom you offer. Would you please continue to bring freedom and life to your world. My heart is broken. Please lead us, your people, forward, so we can extend your freedom and life to the ends of the earth.

In the past week I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to love my actual life – the life I have today, instead of the life I used to have, the life I hope I’ll have when things go back to “normal”, the life I’ll have when I finally buy a house or publish my next book. I’ve been reading With by Skye Jethani and Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright and am trying to hold on to the idea that life with God is for today, not for some time in the future when COVID has gone away or God’s kingdom has come or I get to heaven. The Romans 8 passage reminds and encourages me that today I can set my mind on the Spirit and the things of the Spirit. I can rejoice in the life and freedom I’ve been given. I sense his invitation to let the reality of his rescue loom large in my heart and draw me back to the anchor of his love.

I called my dad this week and we talked for 30 minutes, and after I hung up I realized he hadn’t asked me a single question about how I am or what I’m doing. I immediately thought about how often I do that to God – come to him with my problems and needs and requests but never make any time to see how he’s doing. I’m thinking about what I could change in that regard.

Check out more of Tanya’s writing and reflections on her author page. Did you try out Lectio Divina this week with Romans 8:1-8? Share your reflections here! If you still would like to follow with our community and contemplate weekly passages of scripture with us, check out the guide to Lectio Divina and this week’s podcast

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