Transformed in the Waiting

This devotion comes from Stephanie Wesley.

I was recently reminded of an old song I used to love. By today’s standards, the music sounds quite cheesy to my ears, but the lyrics are such a powerful picture of the reason for Advent—awaiting the return of Christ and him making everything new again. And specifically, when he makes you and me new again.

“The Now and the Not Yet”
by Pam Mark Hall

No longer what we were before,
But not all that we will be.
Tomorrow, when we lock the door,
On all our compromising,
When he appears,
He’ll draw us near,
And we’ll be changed by His glory,
Wrapped up in His glory….

We will be like Him,
For we shall see Him,
As He is.

But I’m caught in between
The now and the not yet;
Sometimes it seems like
Forever and ever,
That I’ve been reaching to be
All that I am,
But I’m only a few steps nearer,
Yet I’m nearer….

This season of Advent is drawing us nearer to the day we recall Christ’s birth in human form. As Christmas Day approaches, I find myself more clearly recalling the reason for his first coming (John 3:16-17), and even more eagerly anticipating what his second coming will mean for me personally (1 John 3:2).

Although we collectively find ourselves in the gap between Christ’s coming and his coming again (and much has been gleaned about that already in these posts), let’s pause to consider how each of us—on a personal, individual level—are caught in between the now and the not yet

I am not yet fully living into who God intends for me to one day be.

And yet…

Like you, I am a work in progress. I love how Paul states it in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The hard inner work of transformation actually belongs to God. Our job, then, is to fully surrender to his transforming power—to not shirk from participating with his power through our daily thoughts, words, and deeds. Much easier said than done!

Perhaps during Advent’s season of waiting, we can become more attuned to his overwhelming love for us (John 3:16 “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”) and let that compel us to surrender to his desire for us to grow more and more into his likeness (1 John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”)

But I’m caught in between the now and the not yet
Sometimes it seems like forever and ever
That I’ve been reaching to be all that I am
But I’m only a few steps nearer–
Yet I’m nearer

Even as a young girl, my heart recognized the profound yet painful truth that who I am today is not who God ultimately intends for me to be, once I am fully transformed into his likeness. 

And yet…

When I look back at God’s faithfulness and transformational power in my life, I realize that who I am today is not who I once was—by his grace alone! As a teenager, for instance, I could be incredibly critical of others. But I saw and admired deep compassion modeled by godly peers and adults and longed to embody that same character, so I asked God to grow that within me. I wish I could say I’m never critical today; but I can say that criticism is no longer my natural default. Because of my own experiences with pain, loss, disappointment, etc, my first instinct now is to seek to understand and empathize with others (most of the time, at least). God is still growing these muscles of compassion and empathy within me; and I look forward to the day when my character will look a lot more like Jesus than it does today. 

No longer what we were before,
But not all that we will be.

As we await what will come, that moment when Christ returns and we can see — and fully grasp — the true fullness of who he is, we will finally become like him. Simply put, we will be holy because he is holy.

While we await his second coming, what sort of transformational process is he calling you to undertake? It may be character development, it may be relational healing, it may freedom from addictions, habits, or thought patterns that are not godly. Whatever it is, it will most likely be difficult.

And yet …

It will be worth it. Let us not shirk from the good, hard work that leads to greater Christ-likeness and freedom in Christ.

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