The View from Table Rock

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Back two weekends I had the wonderful privilege of spending some time with the good folks at Cornerstone Church in Medford, Oregon.  I was little nervous because Derek Thomas is a frequent speaker there and they really like him and he has an accent.  He's also a great speaker, but the accent, too?  Really?  It just doesn't seem fair.  So I put on my best Western PA twang and went to work.

 

From my hotel window I could see an incredible mountain, called Table Rock.  There's actually two mountains, the Upper and Lower Table Rocks.  When I got a free afternoon I set off to climb them.  Medford sits in a valley, the Rogue River Valley, surrounded on all sides by the Cascade Mountains.  Absolutely beautiful.  And in the middle of this grand valley stands the Table Rocks.  They're almost 1,000 feet in elevation and the top is flat, stretching out about a mile.  The tree line stops near the top, which is just rock.  Google it and you'll see.  It's the kind of thing Microsoft preloads as a screensaver option.

 

So I went to climb it.  And then I saw the signs--beware of cougars, then beware of bear.  Then another sign, cautioning to stay on the path so as to avoid rattle snakes.  I stayed on the path.  Ah, the beauty of nature.

 

It struck me how much conflict there is in nature.  We tend to see it from a distance and ooh and aah.  Up close it can be something else.  Though I didn't see a cougar or a bear or a rattle snake on that hike, the next day, while out for a morning run, I did see one.  It ran right along side of me, then cut in front of me, then slipped off into some underbrush.  And I with my pepper spray at home, 3,000 miles away. 

 

But the conflict we experience in nature is nothing compared to that which we experience with each other.  Our contemporary age is one of genocide, a story of wars ripping and shredding humanity on all the continents, except ours here in North America.

 

But the conflict and tension and strife that runs rampant among humanity is nothing compared to what we all face--the unmitigated wrath of God.  I saw this the other day in Amos 9, can't say as I noticed it before.  God, the Lord of hosts, "touches the earth and it melts."  It was a rainy day and I was a bit down so maybe that's why I noticed it.  There's more verses where that one came from (Have you ever read Nahum?).  We don't always stop to look at them.  No denying it, we all stand under the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3). 

 

All this talk of cougars and snakes and bears and wars and, above all, the wrath of God makes me so grateful for Romans 5.  We have peace with God. 

 

Where there was death and strife and tension, there is life and peace and reconciliation.  We only have peace through and because of Christ, because of his work of justification imputed to us, because of his work graciously applied to our account (Romans 3:21-4:25).  It's all packed into Romans 5:1.  We have peace with God.

 

I made it to the top of Table Rock with not so much as a single brush with the ferocity of nature--as long as you don't count the raindrops, yes, it really does rain a lot in Oregon.  But what a view from the top, of the valley, of the mountains, some snow-capped already, of the pear orchards all over the Rogue River Valley.  I could have stayed up there all day.

 

But that's nothing compared to the view of Romans 5:1.  We have in this verse ever-opening vistas of the singular truth that we have peace with God.  What an amazing thing to consider.  It's enough to make us want to stay there all day.  

Posted November 15, 2010 @ 4:31 PM by Stephen Nichols
TOPICS: Romans
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