A row of trees greets me every time I leave my house. Barren in winter, budding in spring, and lush green throughout the summer, they provide a safe canopy over the road on which I live. The transformation of my street in the fall, my favorite season, always makes my heart swell. Burnt orange and goldenrod leaves line one side, clinging to their branches until a rush of air sends them to the ground. In contrast, vibrant green leaves line the other, a reminder of sunny summer days gone by.
The contrast of each side catches my attention. This space between the now of summer and the not quite yet of fall reminds me of the summer after senior year of high school, before college begins. And this space also represents my spiritual reality. Here and now there are hardships. Disease, division, and death result in suffering, brokenness, and pain. Life on this earth is just hard.
I trust in a God that can right the wrongs of today.
Sometimes it’s hard because of the decisions of others, or things out of my control. But life is also hard because of the choices I make. I feel the substantiality of sin and the weight of its consequences in my bones. Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy and the only one to blame.
There is forgiveness for these sins—those in the past, those of today, and those still to come. I trust in a God that can right the wrongs of today and bring healing and wholeness. It might not be the way I expect, but I believe in it and in him. The hope of what is to come, true life after death, life the way it was meant to be lived.
We get glimpses now of this abundant life Jesus announces in John 10:10. We can experience restoration of what was broken, renewal of relationships, resurrection of hopes and dreams. We are not slaves to sin or fear or what people think of us. We have been named and called and counted as the children of God. We are heirs to an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us. We are only given glimpses now as we wait for completion of our identity, fully restored and healed sons and daughters.
We hold the title of both sinner and saint.
This is the peculiarity of the spiritual now and not yet. We live in a space where we have begun our lives on this earth but have not yet begun to live our eternity when our true lives will begin. We hold the title of both sinner and saint.
The leaf-lined road reminds me of advent, where we acknowledge the longing we hold for things to be made right, a yearning for life as it was meant to be. Life is really one long advent season, a transition time from the beginning of our creation as children of God to when we fully experience life with him. We walk the road ahead, enjoying what is before us and anticipating what is ahead. ” … I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14).
This is where we live as believers in Jesus: living between the now of hardship and pain, of moments of joy that will pale in comparison to the joy that is coming as we long for what is ahead.