A friend of mine from YWAM recently wrote a post about her post-mission life not quite being what she expected. She had been so sure that she’d go home and things would fall into place, that she’d continue to grow visibly in her love for God moment by moment, develop an immediate community, and quickly land a great job. But…things haven’t gone quite as planned. I know her pain. I’ve had plenty of times in my life when things did NOT go as planned. Like, at all. Even right now. I came home from YWAM not really knowing where I was headed, but sure God would lead me into some new and exciting adventure! After all, I was obedient and grew so much, I was ready! Time to take on the world! But instead, He slowed me down. He’s having me take stock, heal a lot of old hurts. Solidify my relationships, first and foremost with Him, but also with others. For maybe a month or so, I struggled. Hard. I felt lost and confused and aimless and adrift and useless and forgotten and disappointed and a billion other things. But, my friend’s post and my story end with the same conclusion: it is the greatest honor to love Him through the hard times.
My friends, there’s something truly special about this time we have on Earth. For all of eternity, we get to love God. We get to spend forever discovering Him and plumbing the depths of His love. It’s going to be beyond anything we can imagine. Beyond comparison to even the best of this world. I, for one, am excited to trade this world in for the next, and it’s a good thing to be excited about! We all should be! But, there’s a certain poignancy of this battle-born love, this love under hardship that we have here and now that will be lost in that transaction. We have in this lifetime maybe 80, 90, 100 years if we’re especially long-lived. Only 80, 90, 100 years during which our love for Him will be actively opposed. It is our great privilege to be able to love God now, even though we “see through a glass darkly,” even though we “know in part.” Never again in all of eternity will we have this particular privilege.
I think we as Christians have a tendency to do a disservice to our time on Earth. There’s generally this sense of, “Let’s hurry this along so we can get to the good stuff.” At best, we want to do on this Earth as much as possible to make a difference for eternity; at worst, there are those that actually want to hurry to their deaths. But do any of us ever think to savor it? I think there’s a tender place in God’s heart for this time with us. I remember a night back during lecture phase in YWAM. I was going through a rough time and crying out to God and He whispered, with all the tenderness and wistfulness of a Father with an infant, “You need me so much right now.” Of course, all parents want their children to grow into strong adults; they looks forward to their first steps, to being able to talk and laugh with them, to the friendship that will develop as they get older, to watching them successfully take on the world, become their own people, and become someone they in turn can rely on. That’s the goal – successful humans who can stand on their own feet, alongside their parents. But some small part of those parents’ hearts will miss the time when that baby was entirely reliant upon them. When the only protection that stood between the helpless infant and the darkness of the world was dad and mom. I think our lifetimes are like that for God. Of course we’ll always need Him, and for eternity our relationship with Him will only grow and get stronger and more beautiful. But right now is the only time we’re under active attack, when we need to rely entirely on His strength to see us through and protect us from “this present evil world.” We lack so much understanding, we’re stuck in these mortal bodies, we’re limited to our five senses. We do our best and make mistakes and fail and get back up and keep stumbling along. But…we just need Him so much right now. We’re pretty helpless without Him. It’s actually a really tender place to be.
The point is not to fixate on now or take our eyes off eternity. No. It’s to remind us that even in the darkest of the dark times – especially in those times – we can show God a special quality of love that we will be unable to express again after this lifetime. That is a unique honor and privilege of NOW. Remember your Father who aches to protect you, who longs to be the one you choose to trust in, rely on, and turn to in the hard times. Remember how truly special it is to Him when you choose to rest in His strength and rely wholly on Him. Think of the leaping joy in His heart when you, faced with difficulty, with hurt, with confusion, with uncertainly, with persecution, choose to turn and run into His arms for comfort, help, and protection instead of turning away. You have the ability to make Him SO HAPPY. Our time here is so short. Such a brief moment in which to demonstrate to Him how steadfast our love truly is. The greater the difficulty or hurt, the more it means when we choose to love Him through it. We just…we need to make the most of this time. Not let hardship turn us bitter, angry, or disappointed. What a missed opportunity. Instead, we can choose to love God and let Him love us through each challenge and enjoy a truly unique and tender time in our relationship.
Eternity will be infinite, but these days are numbered. So savor each day with Him.