Our Two Spiritual Time Zones

Living in the tension between present promise and future fulfillment.

“As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever. Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” –Psalm 48:8–9

I woke up before the sun on a recent morning, just home from some overseas travel. The discomfort of jet lag is one of my favorite embodied metaphors of our spiritual reality. We live in liminal space. We are pulled between two time zones. On the one hand, by faith we are held secure in the love of God. We have received full redemption. On the other hand, though we have been made secure in Christ, we continue to experience uncertainty. We are sojourners, not yet home.

Psalm 48, which on the surface is a song about the temple in Jerusalem, acknowledges this truth. “As we have heard” is the first phrase, a suggestion that we know certain things to be true even if we haven’t seen them. “Seeing” often comes later. Present grace pushes us toward the future, while future grace comes to meet us in the present. Grace propels our movement toward restoration, even as we run forward in the strength God gives us.

But often just because something is true doesn’t mean it feels true. What I believe often feels out-of-sync with my circumstances. Reality unleashes pervasive brokenness: job loss, abuse, oppression, poverty, divorce, illness, and persecution. But in gospel hope, we are supported by the good news that God’s restoration is tenaciously breaking in. He is with us.

Sometimes we don’t sense that God is with us. Our understanding is often delayed. In suffering we wait with expectation, but it takes time for our hearts to catch up to the reality of things.

Not long ago, …

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