The weather report reads 6 degrees. And so it continues to swing from one side of the pendulum to the other, this weather of ours. A few weeks ago BBQ’s were ignited, people were in their gardens, skies were blue and sunsets visible. The thick grey clouds had lifted, and so had the winter.
You see, it’s been a very long, dark winter this year. With the damp and cold, I have often asked myself, “Will it always be like this? Will it ever turn green? Will nature come into life again?” There is a deep longing for spring. Living in the English countryside the preferred view is life with color rather than grey and dead. And well for a short period of time, we all believed we were at that threshold, that starting point, where one season passes and a new one springs to life. How do we go from having great weather to having days like today? Where it’s wet, cold, and windy. Where it’s sleeting and hailing. And I hear myself say over and over, “I just thought we were past this.”
My heart mirrors this picture tonight, for it’s the the same deep down within my soul, so desperate for winter to be over, tasting and seeing glimpses of what is to come, but not fully able to grasp it yet. I can feel the longing for the new, for change. I can see the vision of what is to be, but it’s just not quite in reach. It’s not quite here yet. It’s now but not yet. I attempt to cultivate a deep trust in Him within the tension because if not my world falls apart. Either He is in charge and has a plan, or I become captain controlling wiping myself and everyone else out in the process. It’s dying 1,000 deaths. When emotion rages, and thoughts take you to spaces and places you never wanted to go, it’s getting back to truth as fast as I can and clinging to it for dear life,
“Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.” (Romans 4, message….towards the end)
God gave Abraham the promise, but Abraham had to wait for the promise. For God to fulfill the promise. It was a case of now but not yet. And did he get it right? No. And before we point the finger at him, we see in Abraham a man who struggled to trust God in the same way that we do. But we see Abraham move into a space of waiting and trusting God for the promise that had been made. For a new thing to come. For the God ordained plan and purpose for Abraham’s life to come forth into motion, to be a living reality. For a doorway, for the entrance to open and for Abraham to step into. A threshold moment, a divine starting point. It it was all by grace, all by God’s doing. What a shift in perspective this must have been. To go from experiencing God’s call, responding to the call, hearing God’s promise, and then attempting to do it his own way. And then God calls something out of nothing, he takes what was once a dead situation and brings it back to life and the promise starts to be fulfilled.
“Patience is the not the ability to wait but how you act in the waiting.”
And I have this hunch, this thought that runs on replay over and over in this brain that never seems to want to shut off. That in the waiting Abraham had to die a 1,000 deaths. There were many things he needed to put to rest. He needed to surrender, he had to bury his attempts to figure out how God was going to come through for him, he had to stop guessing the timing of it all, of how God’s plan was going to be orchestrated. The details had to be surrendered. What it might cost him, that had to be surrendered too. All of it had to be surrendered. And yes Abraham is viewed as a big hero within the scriptures, but he was also a human being with thoughts, emotions and fears. I don’t think that once it was surrendered it stayed there.If we are honest with ourselves, we give things to God and then take them right back. I think it was a season of constant surrender. It was a daily choice of surrender and choosing to live by grace.
“When nothing is sure, anything is possible.”What moves me is this: the surrender was not in vain. The tension, the waiting, the 1,000 deaths, the season of uncertainty was not a waste. “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” Abraham becomes the Father of the children of God because he surrenders to God.
Abraham had a case of now but not yet. Abraham’s story echoes truths within my own heart, of now but not yet. With something as simple as seasons changing in nature, or threshold moments we may find ourselves in. But this now but not yet thought screams out at us in the pages of scripture. This isn’t a new thought.
We live in the now -but not yet times. We live believing that the Kingdom of God, the rule and reign of Jesus Christ, is coming back to earth and will have the final say in all things. We believe that will happen someday and many would claim with the great disaster, poverty, and hatred towards each other that have led to the most horrific acts as of late, that that day would be soon. We pray for the end to come. But until it does, we live in the tension but with a responsibility, and with a mission. And the mission of God requires the people of God to participate. It’s the people of God signing up to die 1,00o deaths, learning the art of trust in the Saviour in whom we find our freedom in. We usher in His Kingdom now, knowing that completeness of that will be totally manifested at a later date in which no one knows. To usher in His Kingdom in our families, in our schools, in our communities, in our workplace, in any space we take a step, we are given Kingdom opportunity. As it says in the Lord’s prayer,
“Set the world right; Do what’s best- as above (heaven) so below (earth).” May this be the declaration over our lives. May be it be seen in the way we live and the way we love. But it requires a yielding, a surrender to things of God, in order for his throne to be established in our lives and in this world.
For all of us it’s the now