Now and Then
It is a familiar answer to a question asked about the frequency of an event, “ Now and then. ”
Like someone asking, “How often does John eat pizza?” “Now and then.” Okay, bad example, because in this case it is “All the time.” Because the phrase means occasionally, from time to time, every once in a while.
But the faithful Christian thinks of these two words in a very different sense. Or we should. Spiritually our focus is not on the present but on the future. Not, “ now and then, ” on the contrary, “now but then.” Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Sometimes this is difficult because we live in the “here and now.” But the word of God gives us some things to think on that will help us to keep our eyes on the “Then.”
Now our vision is defective; then is will be perfect. It bothers me that I no longer have 20/20 vision. I used to brag about my good eyesight, but now I am occupied with where I put my glasses (oh, they are on my head). Or I have to put little lenses on my eyeballs so I can see to play golf or ride my motorcycle. Whether they be minor inconveniences of the flesh or major trials to our faith Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We cannot and will not understand it all now in this life, but it will all be crystal clear then.
Now our bodies are subject to age and decay; then they will be incorruptible. It’s not just the eyes that go bad! Everything else declines as well. My sweet daughter reminded me of this the other night when she said, “You’re not a young man any more” (Thanks sweetheart, I love you too!). Our bodies decay, they are corruptible. But Paul also said, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Now we are decaying, but then we shall be immortal!
Now sadness and trouble are frequent struggles; then we shall have joy untold. “Grown men don’t cry!” Right! I’m thinking of a few right now, and so are you. This life is filled with sorrows and troubles. But when Jesus comes again those who are watching and waiting for Him to come will be filled with such joy that we will never sorrow again. The Psalmist wrote, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Now we sorrow and cry, but then we will never cry again!
Now sin brings death, then we shall have everlasting life. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). I hate death and the separation and sorrow it causes. This past week mark one year since my mother passed away. I talked to a friend last night who informed me of the passing of a dear brother in Christ. Bill was a friend of preachers and a man who encouraged me greatly. He will be missed here. Many have lost loved ones this past year and we will continue to be plagued by death until Jesus comes again. Now we die, but then we shall live forever!
The sad truth is far too many people live for the here and now (YOLO)! What we need to be doing now is preparing for then. Repent of your sins (Luke 13:3, 5); confess Jesus as the only begotten Son of God (Romans 10:9–10); Be immersed in water for the remission of your sins (Acts 22:16); and be faithful living not for the here and now, but living now for then.