Hello again, friends! It’s been a little quiet around here lately, and I’m sorry for that. Life in the real world has gotten very busy lately! I wonder if you also notice the seasons and cycles of life being busy and then having seasons of rest. Our Spring has been filled with track meets and dance competitions and concerts and lots of “wonderful” things like home repairs, but also filled with actual wonderful things like preparing for our high school senior to graduate and working in our garden and flower beds.
Life Lessons in the Garden
Years ago, our pastor preached a message on the Now and the Not Yet. The main idea was that there are aspects of being a part of the Kingdom of God that have us living in this in-between place. There is the Now of what Jesus has accomplished that we live and walk in fully, and the Not Yet of what He has accomplished that we will not necessarily see until we see Him face to face. We have freedom in Him that we can experience Now, but we also might have struggles or illness or injury that might not be fully healed until the Not Yet. We can live in relationship with Him and His Holy Spirit in the Now, but we won’t experience the fullness, the fully FULL, the really REAL, until the Not Yet.
This Now and Not Yet is not limited to things of God, though. The Now and Not Yet also occurs in the practicality of our daily lives, and this is the area where I feel that tension right now. This season has been so busy, yet I sense that season of rest coming as we transition from school to summer (teacher life, right?). As the busy end of school year stuff comes barreling down the pike at me, I find myself longing for those simple summer days. My current Now has me wishing for summer and the fun and freedom it brings as a teacher, but the reality of the Not Yet is that there are 2 1/2 weeks left of school. As we’ve worked on some home repairs and done some necessary yard updates, I’ve found myself desiring admittedly materialistic things, like wanting to do some major space updates in our home Now, but the reality in my bank account says, “Not Yet.” The tension of the Not Yet is often something that God is using to mold us and shape us into what He has designed for us.
Tension is part of the process.
When I know those moments are coming, I can get caught in a trap. If I am not careful and watchful, I get caught in the trap of discontent. The Not Yet becomes my main focus, and instead of cultivating being content with where I AM, I fall into the trap of comparison, and the joy-stealing “keeping up with the Joneses.” When I am waiting for the Not Yet as a writer, I begin comparing my stories and writing with others, and I can let my inner voice of discouragment get the better of me. Finding the balance between living in the Now, being content with the Now, and yet keeping our eyes on the Not Yet can be tricky.
I think back to my flower beds. It is Sping in the beautiful Inland Northwest, and it feels like coming alive again. So much is blooming, and it is amazing. But you know what isn’t blooming? My Black-Eyed Susans, Echinacea, Sunflowers, and Chrysanthemums. Why aren’t these blooming yet? Well, because they are summer and fall bloomers, so it’s not time yet. Although their foliage is getting big and full and beautiful, their blooms are still in the Not Yet. I can’t rush these beautiful blooms any more than I can push a story before it is ready, or remodel my kitchen before I have the plan or the finances to accomplish it. I have to wait, and trust that they will be beautiful flowers in their time.
How can I find peace in the middle of tension?
One way I’ve found to combat the joy-stealer is to pray. Take time to pray when you are feeling that tension between the Now and Not Yet. Sometimes God gives us a vision of the Not Yet for a greater purpose. Sometimes we aren’t meant to be content with the Now, because He is moving us to something new, He is providing things that shake us from our comfort zone and stretches us in order to accomplish His purpose. When we have prayed, and when we know that He is using tension to create something new, we can take comfort in His promises, and speak truth to our waiting hearts that He is faithful, that His plan is better than ours, and that He will complete His plan in His timing. We can watch and see how He is changing us to accomplish His purpose, and we can delight in what He is doing.
Cultivating gratitude doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to keep a gratitude journal or be a memory keeper, although both can be highly beneficial if you are like me and like to have a tangible record of the blessings in your life. I can simply find delight in my Springtime blooms, even as I wait for the summer ones to appear. I can take joy in my students and the fun “last lessons” I plan as the year comes to a close. I can celebrate my own children in the flurry of year end activities, instead of letting myself feel overwhelmed by the schedule. Finding those moments to enjoy the Now is one of my favorite ways of cultivating gratitude. Like the lesson from my lovely snapdragons, enjoying the Now before it is spent waiting for the Not Yet. Here’s a shot of one of my pretty peonies, which decided to pop open as I was working on this post! Trust the process. Good things come in time.