You may have grown up as I did, singing a stately old song, “In the Sweet By and By.” Great song. Love it. Still sing it. But there’s a new one I think I like even better. The title is, “In the Sweet Here and Now.” (Truth is, it hasn’t been written yet; I’ve only chosen the title.)
I know, there is something about promises for the future that give us hope. There is something about knowing how the story ends that gives us courage. There is something about the assurance the sun will shine tomorrow that helps us remember to smile even in today’s darkness.
But that’s not all. There is also the exhilaration of having intimacy with the Supreme Ruler of all. Today. We’ve got Friends in high places; to grasp that reality will raise your pulse rate. Jesus knows me, this I love… We are partners with the One who is choreographing the greatest rescue operation in the history of the universe. We see Him breathing new life into the dead every day. We see smiles today that were not here yesterday. We watch victories rising from the ashes of tragedy, of His fixing broken things. And that gives Wow! to the sweet here and now.
Let me be specific. A friend recently told us that as he is driving to church he finds himself asking, “I wonder what God is going to do today.” He said he has learned to go with a sense of expectancy, of anticipation. What guest will come to worship and leave his or her burden at the altar? What tense family rift will be mended? How will the population of eternity change in the next couple of hours because God shows up and shows Himself strong?
In what unpredictable manner will God enter the congregation and change the forever-trajectory of the worshipers? How many will arrive reluctantly in the parking lot and leave an hour later with an anointing? Who will make a last minute decision to attend, only to find themselves engulfed anew by His unfathomable acceptance?
It’s true, In the sweet by and by we will meet on that beautiful shore… I know that. I believe that. But it will be because of what God has done between now and then. And I love to watch that happen. I always want to be thrilled but never surprised when His presence engulfs a place or an event or a person and changes it by His grace. I love to think about the sweet by and by but live in the sweet here and now. The best of both worlds.
By Don Jacobsen