Saturday Sermon: The difference between now's and not yet's of God
"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" and "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 2,000 years ago, we have forgiveness right now. God forgives you the errors of your youth that still haunt you today.
He forgives you for 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 that 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.
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 4-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.
Andrew Schroer is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Edna.