I am writing today from my grandmother’s graveside near to my heart. Last month, it was from the hospital bedside and things, like they always do, moved so quickly that just now the time of grieving is starting to work through us. But as I meditate upon the events of the past month and think about the road ahead I am struck by this sense, I can only describe it like, “not yet, right now.” Let me try to explain; I always find that writing clears my head so I’m hoping this will make sense.
Thinking of the graveside and looking ahead to Easter Sunday, I have this sense of anticipation and eager waiting. Because my savior Jesus is risen from the dead in a bodily new creation by the glory of the Father, I know that my grandmother, myself and all the saints, will one day walk in newness of life, just like Jesus. I look forward to this moment and the time hasn’t come yet—I’m waiting. Only the Lord knows when all things will be made new by His all-powerful hand, just like when He made all things by a Word so long ago. To Him a thousand years are like the blink of an eye, but to us an hour in a waiting room seems like forever. My life has this sense of anticipation for the promises of God to come true. In one of our adult bible studies at church, I compared it to a bride or groom anticipating the marriage date to come, so close, but so far away.
But like that bride and groom to be, the effect of that wedding date in the future has a very real effect on who they are right here and now. Knowing that one day soon they will be husband and wife, the reality of that future state comes to live with them right now. They find that they are considering themselves as if they are already married to the one they love. They are not acting like they were when they were single (even though they technically are until the wedding date), this includes partying, seeing other people romantically and the like. If they were to live right now as if they we were single, it would do an injustice to that future wedded relationship they are anticipating and, quite honestly, do harm and damage to it—maybe even destroying what they are hoping for. So even though they are waiting for the day to come and it hasn’t been fulfilled, there is a sense of its reality “right now;” of it being true right now and that affects how they live right now.
But what does this “not yet” look like according to God’s promises? Think about these verses from Revelation 21:1-7 NLT:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious (in Christ) will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”
The “not yet” of God’s promises for myself and my grandmother and all of the saints—though not here yet—the reality of it comes from that future day and lives with me right now. Think of what that will be like when God comes to live with His people. Not shrouded through our own sinful eyes or hidden from our view because of our darkness. The Creator of all things in the midst of His people knowing Him fully just as He fully knows us now. Everything that we now run to, to quench that unquenchable thirst, that crazy desire, God himself will quench completely and we will know peace. But we will also fully be who were are meant to be, without sin or greed or selfishness or pride getting in our way of doing what is right—living fully without those limitations and living, in every right sense of the word, being fully alive. Finally letting go of the chain of sin, forgiving and letting go, being free.
Like our soon to be married couple, the guarantee and promise of that future wedding day is in the ring on the finger and the deposit on the banquet hall. But more than that, in all of the little and big ways they will be taking care of each other like they are already married. Now in our faith, the guarantee we have of that future day when we are to be married to the Lord eternally comes to us in a way we would never have expected. Easter morning. Instead of simply waiting and wondering what that day will be like God has come to us in the bodily resurrection of Jesus in His new and glorious body to put a ring on our finger and a deposit on the banquet hall. I can’t think of a better promise than the one I get to see the proof of a little bit right here and now! But it is more than that—it is then all of the big and small ways our savior Jesus cares for us right here and now leading up to the day when we are with Him fully in the marriage feast of the Lamb to His bride the Church.
In faith, if you are looking to being married to God in this future day of promise, how are you going to live right now? That is the thought that keeps coming to my mind over and over again. Now I know full well, because I know myself well, that I do not deserve to be married to the Lord in the “not yet” nor do I deserve His grace and mercy in the “right now.” I’m not under any illusions as to my own sin or to my own inability to come to God or be with Him. It is all undeserved mercy and grace from God.
But at the same time, there is this “right now” urgency in me that I don’t want to come to the party underdressed. I don’t want to show up for the wedding feast in my ragged torn jeans and t-shirt. I want to be dressed appropriately to meet the Lord in the sky. In this as well, is a gift from God. I am covered in His blood and righteousness that covers all my sin and makes me presentable to God. Now, that God has covered me, I want to respond. I need to respond. To try, to strive “to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God…” (Ephesians 4:1b). I don’t want to do damage to that future promise. I want to live by the grace of God as if I am already married to God right now. I want to live in the “not yet, right now” and live a life worthy of my calling. To live a life like my grandmother led, one that had a foot firmly planted in the future promises of God and one in the here and now.