My boyfriend and I have recently been struggling to be in the “here and now” while waiting for the “already, but not yet.” Through 101 questions (literally), we’re about a month deep into pre-engagement counseling and struggling to have fun while making plans and progress for the future. While we love each other deeply and are capable of enjoying life together, it’s all too easy to allow the unknowns to sap that so desired state of our hearts and minds.
In Proverbs 16:9, the TPT notes the undesired process like this: “Within your heart, you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there” (emphasis added).
And if we’re honest, that’s not what we as controlling and manipulative humans like to hear. Christian or not, we all seek to control and love to obsess over what we can and cannot do. What we can then becomes a habit, and what we cannot becomes habitual desire until we achieve it.
Like the way my boyfriend and I struggle to remember to flirt, laugh, and have fun, I believe if we aren’t careful, we behave toward God the same way.
Loosen Control to Open up to Relationship
Instead of rejoicing in what, when, and where He’s placed us at this very moment, we question, doubt, and hang our heads. Rather than reveling in our conversations with Him, we mumble phrases we’ve said over and over again like a mundane task to quickly complete. And in essence, we forget to have fun with God by forging that relationship for a facade of assignments to finish off our to-do lists (and I’m talking to myself here, too!).
But friends, a relationship with God, just like a relationship with a significant other, should be fun! It should be exciting, new, and something we look forward to rather than a merely rushing through time and wishing to be anywhere but here in this present moment.
You can plan all you want, but the Lord is in control.
I can answer 101 questions with my boyfriend in preparation for engagement, but I’m still going to face uncertainties.
You can go to school to become a teacher and face unexpected situations you have no idea how to meet even after you’ve graduated and taught for years.
I can get ahead on my Bible reading and still feel far from God, needing to soak in His Word daily.
Because even though I hate to admit it, there will always be uncertainties in life on this side of Heaven that we can’t prepare for and will leave us baffled, scared, and confused, but in Christ, we know that He holds every moment in between. Even those between the “here and now” and the “already but not yet,” to know Christ is treasuring the beauty of that which we can’t see.
Whatever season the Lord has you in, rest in this small but powerful truth: Though we live in the spaces between, God wants you to enjoy life with Him right now because He’s already worked out all the details.
In Ephesians 5:13-20, Paul pens these words regarding living in the present while living for something far more significant than our earthly world can provide:
“There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past” (Ecclesiastes 5:13-20 NLT).
In the Message version, lines 18-20 read this way: “After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.”
The Only Place to Find True Joy
Did you catch that? God deals out joy now and now certainly includes all the “not yets” that uncertainty has to offer in the “here and now.”
Dear friend, rest in knowing that today, no matter the predicament, forecast, or diagnosis, God wants you to focus on the “here and now” with Him. God desires for you to engage with Him about the now and not always the future.
Like my boyfriend and I with counseling, we’re slowly learning to enjoy where we are while also looking forward to where we’re heading. Don’t waste this season with your precious Lord. He’s called you to it and wants you to focus on what He’s already doing in your life at this given moment.
While it’s not wrong to prepare and plan, don’t become so obsessed with the “not yet” that that’s all you think about 24/7. Please don’t waste the present for the temptation of what the future will bring (trust me, it always appears so much greater until you reach that destination). And don’t dwell in the past, for the only direction you’re heading is forward.
In the Bible, the greatest man of all time knew that God had a higher and eternal calling for His life while living a human life, yet, He didn’t waste a single second of that journey from the manger to the throne.
Jesus Christ, who bled and died, crucified on an old wooden cross for my sins, endured the “here and now” so that someday, I could share in the taste of His eternal glory that I don’t deserve.
Was the cross uncomfortable? Absolutely.
Could Jesus have “come down from the cross and saved Himself” (Mark 15:30) from the mockery, shame, and agony He endured? 100%.
But because He chose the “here and now” amid confusion, loss, heartache, and pain, so will I.
There’s beauty to be found at the place where nails splintered wood into mangled figurations of a divinely human but fully eternal King called “King of the Jews.”
He knew His future was coming, but in the “here and now,” He said, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), and if Jesus said it, so will I.
Jesus looked to and believed in the promises of the Father who sent Him. He let the past shape who He was but not define who God said He’d one day become.
Our lives are not about how fast we can live them or get from Point A to Point B in the process, but the lives we changed while pursuing that journey.
Isaiah 43:18-19 of the NIV states, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
Friends, in the “here and now” and all the places between, always rejoice, for “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, ESV).
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6, ESV).
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Ales Me
Amber Ginter is an aspiring 25-year-old writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Hoping to become a full-time freelancer, Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic ministry team (Aisthitikós Joy Ministries), and volunteer roles. She is also the author of The Story I've Never Told, which is currently in the publishing process. Amber has freelanced for Daughter of Delight, Kallos, Anchored Passion, Crosswalk, No Small Life, Darling Magazine, Called Christian Writers, Southern Ohio Today News, The Rebelution, Ohio Christian University, and The Circleville Herald. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
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