Now and Not Yet

nowandnotyet(This article also is appears in the July issue of the national Christian magazine Forward in Christ)

“Now is it my birthday, daddy?”

Just about every day for the three weeks before my daughter’s fifth birthday, she asked me that question. “Now is it my birthday, daddy?”

“No, not yet.”

“Now is it my birthday, daddy?”

“No, not yet.”

Then finally the day came. “Now is it my birthday, daddy?”

“Yes it is! Happy Birthday!” I said as she squealed with excitement.

Now … not yet. As we live our Christian lives here on earth, it is important for us to understand the difference between the “now’s” and “not yet’s” of God.

The Bible speaks of what we have right now as Christians. Because Jesus suffered our punishment two thousand years ago, we have forgiveness right now. God forgives you the errors of your youth which still haunt you today. He forgives you that night two weeks ago when you drank more than you should. He forgives you those ugly words you said to your wife this morning. Right now, at this very moment, the warm, comforting blanket of forgiveness covers you completely.

Right now, you have heaven. No, you aren’t in heaven yet. You can’t see heaven yet, but heaven is already yours through faith in Jesus. It belongs to you right now. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

God also promises to be with us right now and to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He promises to make all things which happen right now work for our eternal good (Romans 8:28). That is our “now” as Christians.

But our “now” also includes other things. Our “now” includes conflicts in the Middle East and Russia, polarizing politics in our own country and violence seemingly everywhere. Our now includes cancer, divorce and stress. Our now includes guilt, regret and heartache. Our now includes watching people we love suffer and die.

Not Yet
As we look at the problems and pains of our “now,” the Apostle Paul reminds us, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

One day we will be free from all the hurt and heartache of this world. One day we will see with our physical eyes that which we can only see now through the eyes of faith. One day we will experience the heaven which belongs to us right now. One day we will have all those things, but not yet. For now we must wait.

Like a four year old waiting for her birthday, though, we often struggle with the wait. We get impatient with God when he doesn’t free us from our pains right now. We get frustrated as the problems of right now pile upon our shoulders. We question God why he doesn’t give us what we want right now.

Yet God lovingly tells us to wait. So often, his answer to our prayers is simply: “Not yet.” Now we must wait with the patience and confidence he gives us in his Word and promises. As we wait, however, we have the opportunity to live for him who gives us every good “now” and every perfect “not yet.”

Right now we wait in eager expectation. We wait knowing that one day we will open our eyes and squeal in excitement. One day we will be free. One day we will see God face to face. One day we will be reunited with our loved ones who died in Christ. That will happen one day – just not yet.


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