Soon, but not yet

Nathan and Dad
My son and my father

My father is spending this Father’s Day in the hospital. His situation reminds me that all of us live in the reality of a “soon, but not yet” existence.

What we thought a week ago was to be an overnight stay because of some recent falls turned out to be more complicated. By mid-week, geographically distant family members became concerned enough to make plans to come to northern Indiana, thinking his time might be “soon.”  In the last few days, the reality of “not yet” is more on our minds.  Dad’s newly acquired disabilities may require a new approach to living and a new level of care. It means that God has work for each of us as family members as we care for each other and thereby advance God’s purposes for our family.

In our world as a whole, we live with the same “soon, but not yet” reality. Scientists tell us of climate changes and hint that we are already seeing some of the first of ever more drastic effects in the floods, droughts, earthquakes, and storms that our world has experienced. Economists warn about the collapse of the world financial system, with the current recession being a mild foretaste.  Preachers talk about Armageddon and the tribulation and some even set dates for the end. Thus, it is not surprising that many of us are thinking “soon” about a world in decline and disintegration. Some even long to “go home” and escape from it all.

Disabilities have a way of bringing the reality of a finite, fallen, and decaying world even closer to home. This is particularly the case when disabiities are newly revealed or newly acquired. The wonderfully good and glorious world created for us, and assumed to be the dominant reality in our lives, is tempered and disrupted and called into question. It feels like an end that is coming soon. How can we survive all of the troubles and trials and challenges?

Yet the greater reality is that each end leads to a new beginning.  “Soon, but not yet” gives us the bigger picture. Rather than sitting around and waiting or ceaselessly talking about the end, we are called to recognize the “not yet” reality. Until the end comes, we have a purpose and a mission to work with God, in line with God’s purposes.  We are called to a new level of caring for each other.

While we may mourn the passing of the old, we can also anticipate the new heaven and new earth with increasing joy. That comes as we focus on that future we want to see and find new ways of moving into the new world of wholeness, compassion, and peace that we long for. Then we will discover that in the end is a new beginning!

Jesus encouraged his followers to think of God as a Heavenly Father.  May you experience a blessed Father’s Day!

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