The Doctrine of “For Now” and “Not Yet”

For you astute theologians out there, you may be thinking this is going to be about the Kingdom of God and how this Kingdom is both earthly and heavenly, expressed in the here and now through Christ’s followers and is also yet to come in the perfect culmination of all things when we are with Him in Glory.

And you would be wrong. Sorry to mislead you.

No, it’s just that I have found myself saying those two phrases a lot lately. A lot. Here they are in context:

Michael says, “Well, we finally got the leak downstairs taken care of.” I say, “For now.” Michael says, “Got the faulty pipe replaced and we don’t have any more water coming into the basement.” I say, “Not yet.” Michael says, “All the doctors bills have come in from Abigail’s (not broken) arm and we’re all caught up.” “For now.” You see where I’m going with this?

Here’s the gut-level-honest-truth: February was a rough month. It was just one of those months where you find yourself saying, “This is just getting old.” I’ve never been so glad that February only has 28 days! We were ready to move on to March!

But regardless of what circumstances we are facing, this Debbie Downer mentality of “something worse is probably just around the corner” is pretty much the exact opposite of faith.

Part of Abigail’s bedtime routine each night is to sing a few songs as she goes to sleep. After we’ve read the books, after we’ve turned out the lights, we sing. I think it helps her calm down, but honestly, it’s refreshing for me too to sing a few minutes of quiet praise at the end of the day. One of the songs that almost always makes it on the bedtime playlist is one that I learned as a child. It’s simple. It goes like this:

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you. Halle-ju, Halle-ju-jah.” If you know the tune, I hope you were humming along.

These words of wisdom are straight from Scripture in Matthew 6 where Jesus spends a great deal of time telling us not to worry (which is again, the opposite of faith). The passage on worry begins in verse 25 with the phrase, “This is why I tell you.” I’m not sure that I’ve ever noticed that little phrase before. So I backed up to see why He was telling us not to worry. Interesting. Just before Jesus gives His command to not be anxious about anything, He is giving some cautionary words about money and possessions having too much power in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I find that worry and financial stress OFTEN go together. I guess Jesus is on to something here.

Jesus goes on to paint a beautiful picture of how delicately and intimately He takes care of some of the smallest members of His creation: birds and flowers. He cares for them and provides their every need. Won’t He do much more for you? Ok, I want to stop there, but He doesn’t. Actually He says, “won’t He do much more for you-you of little faith?” (v. 30, HCSB)

I’m confident that when my response to God’s blessing in my life is “well, it can only last so long” I am guilty of having “little faith.” My favorite part of Jesus’ teaching here on worry is verse 34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (HCSB)

Wait, what? In a passage where Jesus is condemning worry and assuring us of His provision, I want Him to finish off with something more like, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow because I’ve got it all handled and it just gets better from here.” No, Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush here. His command to not worry about tomorrow doesn’t change, but it’s not because He promises nothing bad will happen. No, in fact, He assures us that tomorrow will bring challenges. No doubt about it! God’s provision today does not eliminate hardships tomorrow. Actually, His provision today doesn’t even eliminate hardships today. Faith doesn’t cancel out our difficulties. It cancels out our worry.

I have no idea what tomorrow brings. But I know today God will provide. He provides “for now” when only He knows the “not yet”. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you. Halle-ju, Halle-ju-jah.”

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