For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:22.
It seems that my life, like yours, is a series of random, crisscrossing segments, seemingly haphazard, a careless kaleidoscope that shifts and tumbles over itself. The longer I live and breathe the Lord, the more I see those jigsaw fragments converge toward one unified horizon. It is the same one that undergirds and safeguards every apparently disjointed piece of what turns out to be a mosaic instead of a kaleidoscope: grace. I am a grace-receiver, a fragile vessel. We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing value belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7.
My fragility cracks me open at what is for me my most vulnerable fault line: now. The present. This moment. I am actually pretty brilliant at analyzing the past. I am adept at eagerly anticipating the future. But, geez, I suck super bad at simply abiding in the NOW. I see it in my son, Jack, who is brittle just like me. We are icicles, who hang and glisten with breathless, tensile strength, only to shatter when ambushed at that one unguarded spot. I have learned that if I warn Jack that something unpleasant is imminent (the end of a playdate, for instance), he carefully gathers the resources to manage his reaction. But if I surprise him, he derails immediately. That is just like me. An ugly reality sends me into a tailspin unless I can ready myself for it. I feel overwhelmed and unprepared for NOW. My carefully acquired past analyses and future plans are no match for how much NOW falls short of the house of cards I believe my life should be. Is that like you?
The thing about this broken world that humanity has brought upon itself, however, is that it does not warn us. It blindsides us with pain, disappointment, rejection, unmet expectations, consequences, suffering.
I never planned for a genetic disorder that sheds babies from my womb in the early weeks of pregnancy.
I never planned to allow my woundedness to strip my dreams.
I never planned to watch precious friendships slip through my fingers, or uphold my husband as he walks with integrity through professional and personal attack, or spend a lifetime breaking through strongholds from my childhood over which I had no control. What about you? What about NOW is taking you under? What about your present life feels like a massive cosmic mistake because it is so divergent from your past experiences or your future expectations?
Illness? Unemployment? Infertility? Depression? Divorce? Addiction? Debt? Loss? Singleness? Conflict? Boredom? Financial hardship?
And how do you deal with the broken NOW?
Denial? Anger? Depression? Addiction? Ambition? Defeat? Control?
What have you taken up arms to fight for that would be better laid to rest in faith and peace?
(I answer: my family. I trust You, Lord, to number my family to Your glory and my good.)
What have you given up on that would be better fought for in faith and peace?
(I answer: my calling. I joyfully receive my Savior’s mercy and promise to faithfully pursue a ministry to Your women, Lord.)
NOW is hard.
So, I decided to find NOW in Scripture. Here is what I found:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Cor. 2:12.
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world? Galatians 4:9.
But now in Christ Jesus you were once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13.
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. Colossians 1:21-22.
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24.
Once you were not a people, but now you are a people. Once you had not received mercy; now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:10.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2.
All of these Scriptures refer to one NOW, which is the same breathtaking point of time that all of history, including our own histories, converge toward in thunderstruck, awe-filled worship: the Cross. The Cross is God’s NOW. Anticipated by the bloody old covenant sacrificial system, revealed in gritty reality to the tear-filled eyes of his disciples, illuminated to the church through the record of Scripture, the Cross and the epoch of grace it represents are the NOW sparkled through these precious Scriptures. When they refer to “now,” they are contrasting BEFORE THE CROSS to now, AFTER THE CROSS.
Behold, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor. 6:2.
Your NOW, my NOW, with all of its fragments and faultlines, is sheltered by the Cross. The Cross overshadows it, redeems it, protects it. I can release my present life into the hands of the God Who Sees Me, because I trust that the scattered slices of my NOW are not meaningless. They matter. They are jagged and unresolved, yes, but not random. They are pieces of the mosaic of redemption, covered under the Cross-NOW, vivid slivers of grace.
I surrender to my NOW, Lord, because it is safely tucked into transforming, transcendent, surrounding, upholding Grace.