Can I lick the bowl? How long until the cakes are ready? When can I eat one? Is it time yet? Are they cooked now?
Not yet, not yet, and again darling, not quite yet.
Whenever I get my apron on to bake, my younger daughter is the first to pipe up: ‘can I help?’. She loves the whole process. Getting her own apron, pressing the buttons on the scales, pouring the ingredients in ‘I can do it by myself’, mixing, spilling. She’s in her element. I’m sure it has something to do with baker’s prerogative to lick the bowl and of course the certain promise of a lot of cake at the end!
My older daughter has more of a take it or leave it sort of approach. She’s more than happy to enjoy the fruits, or rather sugar rushes of our labour, but is not as fussed about the baking process. She knows the cakes are coming and she knows she’ll get to taste and enjoy them, but her waiting is less active then her sister’s.
How do we wait for what is to come? How do we live now, whilst waiting for that which is not yet. Of course we’re talking about more than cakes. We know as Christians this world is our temporary home, that God is calling us to our eternal home.
That promise is coming but it is not yet. How do we live for the ‘not yet’, in the ‘here and now’? How do we live now knowing what is to come?
Our waiting is far more frustrating, filled with far more longing than the hope of freshly baked cakes. There are times aren’t there when the present sufferings and pains of this world feel irredeemable. Situations filled with more tension and brokenness than we can muster hope for. Our relationship with God, with one another, even to creation itself can be places of grief, anxiety, guilt and despair. Human tendency when longing for change often spills out into nostalgic regret, a living in the past, a desire to go back in time and correct mistakes, to take back the words.
As children of our heavenly Father though, we don’t long for what has happened, for a better time, even for Eden itself, glorious as it was. We long for what is to come. To fling our hope into the certainty of God’s promises for the future. For the time when all will be fully redeemed, transformed, made gloriously perfect in heaven. The question is, am I waiting with an active anticipation and preparation? Is there hope to be found now? I know God’s kingdom is coming and yet I’m called to pray, ‘Let your kingdom come…. on earth as it is in heaven.’
Not then. Not at some point in the future. Now.
Now in light of not yet.
The light of God’s glory that will fill heaven, is given in part now. If the light of the world has come and has himself proclaimed to us, ‘You are the light of the world’, surely we can live in light of the not yet, allowing the certainty of God’s promise of full glorious future transformation to transform our now. It will be partial, but it will still be partially glorious.
While the full light of God’s glory will fill and consume the world, we can seek to shine it in glimpses now.
So, as God will establish perfect peace reigning as Prince of peace in heaven, He calls us to seek the welfare, the peace of the land in which we are living now. As we contend for the things that God contends for, speak out against injustice, as we responsibly rule and subdue, seek peace and order not chaos and destruction in our relationships with God, one another and creation, we are participating in building towards the kingdom that God will establish forever in heaven.
Our desperate awareness of our fallen condition keeps us honest and humble of our capabilities, increasingly aware of our limitations and our own contribution to the failures and frustrations of this suffering world. Turn on the news, step out our front doors, start our first conversations in the morning before caffeine and the Lord’s word temper our snappiness, and we are fully aware that there is discord, friction, conflict and pain in relationships. We have turned God’s call to serve his world and rule over it, into a selfish excuse to domineer, to exploit, to satisfy our greed for more, whether that’s in our treatment of the earth, our disregard for habitat conservation, or our willful detachment and ignorance of how we fill our stomachs and homes with the resources of the world. In the fall, we truly fell to serving self, and the world and our relationships, our own hearts have been suffering ever since.
But we do bear the image of our Creator, of our Father who pursued our hearts, turned them away from introspective, selfish inclination, and lifted them to the light of Jesus. Our Father whose pursuit of us didn’t end with the day of our salvation, but continues to pursue us all our days on this earth with his goodness and mercy. Our father who assures us he will bring to fulfillment the work he has begun in us, and at the same time has set his spirit within us to empower us to actively live for his praise and glory.
As image bearers, as those who live now in the light of that which is to come, we can pursue all that our heavenly father pursues- love, reconciliation, justice and peace in this world. Have no doubt, it is He alone who will surely bring to an end all pain, all mourning, all sorrow and sin, all suffering, but until that day of his kingdom come, He calls us to participate in his kingdom building, kingdom renewing and transforming world now. He will show us the full extent of his glorious vision for the world in the future. For that we wait and the glory will far surpass anything we can imagine, but we wait with a passionate pursuit, not an idle apathy.
In God’s new creation, all violence and exploitation, all conflict in humanity and creation will be no more. True peace will reign over all. This is the vision for which all creation longs. This is the vision that should inspire and motive the children of the King of Heaven and Earth to live with one foot in this world and another in the next, as redeemed images of our Creator, Father, God and King, serving and ruling for his praise and glory. All we hope for from God, in expectation and assurance, affects our living now.
Living while looking to heaven, to the certain hope of what is to come protects our interactions with others and our interests in advocating for causes in the world from become centered on self. What drives us to be a voice to the voiceless, to be an advocate for the powerless, the marginalised, the unborn, the neglected in the world is knowing that the earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. We serve a King and we serve the King who first served us, whose rule led to the cross, whose dominion over the world took him to the depths of death, whose lordship in heaven led to a life in human flesh, and whose sovereignty and majesty willingly determined the giving of that life as a ransom for many.
We may live in the world of ‘not yet’. But our Father is calling us to wait in eager expectation of what he will certainly reveal. The ‘not yet’ of his promised restored creation, the ‘not yet’ he whispers to us as we long for an end to the suffering of this world, comes with a call, a demand from our Lord and King to commit to the work he is already doing, that he has begun. As with the child desperate to get involved in preparing for the feast, so we too long to be part of the restoring, renewing work that God will bring to fulfillment.
Our child like offerings may not be perfect but we stand before our Father accepted on account of the perfect offering of the perfect Son. His death was certainly not in vain, and his kingdom will surely come. As we await his full perfect eternal reign, we do so living for his praise and glory, in the life he won for us, in active participation of the work he invites us to share in.
Our heavenly Father says ‘not yet’ now, but oh how he invites us to be part of his kingdom building, his kingdom coming. He calls us to wait, and he calls us to work.
So, what are you waiting for?