I came across a sad story this week, a story about a honeymoon disaster. The newly weds arrived at the hotel in the wee hours with high hopes. They’d reserved a large room with romantic amenities. That’s not what they found.
Seems the room was pretty skimpy. The tiny room had no view, no flowers, a cramped bathroom and worst of all—no bed. Just a foldout sofa with a lumpy mattress and sagging springs. It was not what they’d hoped for; consequently, neither was the night.
The next morning the sore-necked groom stormed down to the manager’s desk and ventilated his anger. After listening patiently for a few minutes, the clerk asked, “Did you open the door in your room?”
The groom admitted he hadn’t. He returned to the suite and opened the door he had thought was a closet. There, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates, was a spacious bedroom!’
Can’t you just see them standing in the doorway of the room they’d overlooked? Oh, it would have been so nice…
A comfortable bed instead of clumpy sofa.
A curtain-framed window rather than a blank wall.
A fresh breeze in place of stuffy air.
An elaborate restroom, not a tight toilet.
But they missed it. How sad. Cramped, cranky, and uncomfortable while comfort was a door away. They missed it because they thought the door was a closet.
Why didn’t you try? I was asking as I read the piece. Get curious. Check it out. Give it a shot. Take a look. Why did you just assume the door led nowhere?
Good question. Not just for the couple but for everyone. Not for the pair who thought the room was all there was, but for all who feel cramped and packed in the anteroom called earth. It’s not what we’d hoped. It may have its moments, but it is simply not what we think it should be. Something inside of us groans for more.
We understand what Paul meant when he wrote: “We. . . groan inwardly as we wait eagerly our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23 NIV).
Groan. That’s the word. An inward angst. The echo from the cavern of the heart. The sigh of the soul that says the world is out of joint. Awry Misspelled. Limping.
Something is wrong.
The room is too cramped to breathe, the bed too stiff for rest, the walls too bare for pleasure.
And so we groan.
It’s not that we don’t try. We do our best with the room we have. We shuffle the furniture, we paint the walls, we turn down the lights. But there’s only so much you can do with the place.
And so we groan.
And well we should, Paul argues. We were not made for these puny quarters. “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened” (2 Corinthians 5:6).
Our body a tent? Not a bad metaphor. I’ve spent some nights in tents. Nice for vacation, but not intended for daily use. Flaps fly open. Winter wind creeps from beneath. Summer showers seep from above. Canvas gets raw and tent stakes come loose.
We need something better, Paul argues. Something permanent. Something painless. Something more than flesh and bone. And until we get it, we groan.
I know I’m not telling you anything new. You know the groan of the soul. You didn’t need me to tell you it’s there.
But maybe you do need me to tell you it’s okay. It’s all right to groan. It’s permissible to yearn. Longing is part of life. It’s only natural to long for home when on a journey.
We aren’t home yet.
We are orphans at the gate of the orphanage, awaiting our new parents. They aren’t here yet, but we know they are coming. They wrote us a letter. We haven’t seen them yet, but we know what they look like. They sent us a picture. And we’re not acquainted with our new house yet, but we have a hunch about it. It’s grand. They sent a description.
And so what do we do? Here, at the gate where the now-already meets the path of the not-yet, what do we do?
We groan. We long for the call to come home. But until he calls, we wait. We stand on the porch of the orphanage and wait. And how do we wait? With patient eagerness.
“We are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently (Romams 8:25, emphasis mine).
“We wait eagerly for our adoption as sons” (Romans 8:23 NIV, emphasis mine). Patient eagerness. Not so eager as to lose our patience, and not so patient as to lose our eagerness.
Yet, we often tend to one or the other.
We grow so patient we sleep! Our eyelids grow heavy. Our hearts grow drowsy. Our hope lapses. We slumber at our post.
Or we are so eager we demand. We demand in this world what only the next world can give. No sickness. No suffering. No struggle. We stomp our feet and shake our fists, forgetting it is only in heaven that such peace is found.
We must be patient, but not so much that we don’t yearn. We must be eager, but not so much that we don’t wait.
We’d be wise to do what the newlyweds never did. We’d be wise to open the door. Stand in the entryway. Gaze in the chambers. Gasp at the beauty.
And wait. Wait for the groom to come and carry us, his bride, over the threshold.