Now and not yet

Veruca Salt was one of the spoiled children in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. She demanded a golden goose, and when told she couldn’t have it sang the song “I want it now, I want it right now.”

The film was released in 1971, but I think it gives an amazingly accurate description of the state of the world today. In a world of fast food, Amazon prime (other next day delivery options are available), we are becoming less and less used to having to wait for things. The media tells us every day that if we want something we should just reach out and take it. We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of anything we want. It doesn’t directly condone stealing, but quietly suggests that we should take whatever we want by whichever means are necessary.

The Kingdom of Heaven is different. We are encouraged to ask for more, and to ask for things “now”. The difference is that these things are all available to those who believe. We don’t have to take that which isn’t already ours.

I find it interesting that many Christians simply don’t ask. I wonder if it is because they want to seem different from the world, or if it is because they think that God is somehow going to withhold good things from them?

The bible says that anything we ask for in the name of Jesus, will be given to us. We are told that we will do the things that Jesus did, and greater things too, and yet the media perception of the church is that it is ineffective and out of date.

Perhaps it is because our experience is that we pray, and nothing happens. We struggle to explain our unanswered prayers, so we change our interpretation of the bible to fit our experience. We read things like “Jesus doesn’t give instruction on how to deal with unanswered prayer, because it was never meant to be part of our Christian walk” and we feel like we are failing as a Christian.  Although true, when you are not seeing answers, this doesn’t always help. There are two possible responses. Either we stop praying, or we press in to heaven for the answer that has been promised.

Perhaps we put our lack of answer down to the phrase “Now and not yet.”

It’s a phrase that has been overused in my opinion. I used to love it. It was the perfect get out. I’d pray for someone, nothing would happen, and I could confidently say that it was because we live in the Kingdom of Heaven “Now and not yet”.

There is no doubt that there is truth in the statement. God created a perfect world (if you don’t believe me read Genesis 1) Man had been given dominion of the earth (Genesis 1:26) but surrendered it. There is a struggle going on. God is revealing more and more of Himself. We are seeing more and more of Heaven breaking through. Light is shining in the darkness. There are still areas of darkness though. Sickness, disease and death are still an inevitable part of life. We do live in a world where the Kingdom of heaven is “Now and not yet.”

As I said at the start, I was using it as an excuse for lack of success. The thing is, when I used it, what I was actually doing was prophesying the answer. I found that whilst I was praying for a miracle, there was no expectation of an answer. I didn’t have to believe, because I could place my lack of success safely in the Now and not yet box.  

I’ve recently finished reading the Bill Johnson book “God is good – He’s better than you think”. He wrote something that changed the way I look at this phrase. He asked, “why do we emphasise the not yet part, and not the now?” It has completely changed the way that I look at that statement now. I believe that the bible tells us to persevere in prayer for things that we don’t see. I believe that, like David, I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. I am determined that lack of success will not deter me from praying for breakthrough. I will press on, not satisfied until I see heaven on earth. I believe that Jesus taught us to pull heaven down (on earth as it is in heaven.) If this isn’t my experience (and at the moment it isn’t), the problem isn’t on God’s part. He has promised, I am told to expect.

We live in a now and not yet world but hope you will join me in pressing in to a world with more “Now” rather than “Not yet.”

I don’t know about you, but “I want it now.”

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