Now and Not Yet

I read a collection of short stories by John Steinbeck many years ago. One has come to mind over the decades, and I found myself remembering it again today. It was about a man who found himself falling for a young woman, and for the first time, earnestly wanting to be married. He picked up on a casual comment she made about a furnished house she saw in a magazine. Maybe she said she saw herself living there and having a family there, I don’t remember exactly. Obsessively, he worked and planned and eventually created that very home, right down to the minute details in the photograph. The big moment came when he took her there for the big reveal and marriage proposal. Anticipating success and delight, the man was crushed and bewildered when she turned to him in scorn and ridiculed him for his misguided plan.

The younger me felt sorry for that naiive man, even though the story line was a bit of a stretch. Just think of all the money and effort and emotion he wasted on building the carbon copy of a magazine-inspired dream. As if “build it and she will come” would even work. You could see it coming, and she had every right to be creeped out by his assumptive plan. I would’ve reacted the same way.

The older me says “Aha”. I get it now. How much energy have I spent planning and working towards an end? How many times have I thought that when I achieved such and such, I would obtain this and that? I’m not so different from that man after all. Did all that delayed gratification result in gratification?

Did John Steinbeck want me to make this connection? Or was he just weaving another story, developing his characters in his unique way? Although the plot was far-fetched, the truth of our human nature was spot on. I’m not as simple minded with interpersonal relationships as that man in the story, but there’s room for improvement where living “in the moment” is concerned. Let me give you an example. Just this morning, my husband and I agreed that we wanted to take a mountain drive today to enjoy hiking amongst the autumn leaves. Well, first we needed to install that vent in the laundry room. But that shouldn’t take too long . . .

Well, here it is five o’clock now and I’ve got dinner in the oven, so . . .

It’s the template of our days:

“When we finish the {insert home improvement project/task here}

We will {insert desired activity/outcome here}”

I’ve allowed myself to be driven by to-do lists that will never end, so any end reward gets pushed to “beyond”.

I thought about that story because as redeemed followers of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves living both in the “now” and the “not yet”. The “here” and the “beyond”. We are living now on this earth, and our heavenly home is yet to come. But unlike that poor man, we aren’t working towards our future prize. We aren’t laboring to build our dream home where eternal happiness will finally abide. It has already been done, obtained, through faith in Christ’s work on the cross. We are living in the reality of the fullness of Christ now through the power of the Holy Spirit. The peace, the joy, the kingdom, is now.

That’s a proposal and reality I am glad to accept.

No post is complete without a picture.
Did I already show you this one?
It’s another corner triangle unit for the Bible Sampler Quilt.
Using the old, quiet treadle really works to keep me “in the moment”.

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