Living in Two Worlds
I was meeting with a friend the other day who mentioned this statue created by Dean Kermit Allison. I don’t know anything about him, except for what I looked up online. In saying that, I didn’t find much. But this sculpture communicates so much for me. I’m in a land of in-between. There’s this “there” but “not yet” feeling of being a Christians. There’s the feeling of tension—the joy of the Lord, yet sorrow. Saved, yet still struggling with sin. The joy of having the presence of the Holy Spirit, yet a deep longing to have more. I’m reminded of Augustine’s Tale of Two Cities, which is about love for the best things in the temporal city mixed with expressions of sorrow and sometimes fury over what goes wrong in it. But Ian Hamilton over at Banner of Truth put it well when he said, “The fact is that the Christian life is a life of irresolvable tension. We are, by God’s grace, aliens and strangers. We march to the beat of a heavenly drum in a world shaped by an earth-bounded horizon. We live to the glory of God in a world which lives for itself. More acutely, we live to be holy as God is holy in bodies of death, yet marked by indwelling sin. The tension is within as well as without. We cannot, this side of glory, escape the tension without becoming a disloyal traitor to our God and Saviour.”
I praise God that I am saved by grace, that he promises to continue the good work in me that he began, that I have the Holy Spirit working in me and gives me the desire to submit to him.
My wife gave me a card that I still have, back when we were dating (we are quickly approaching the 20th anniversary, 18 years this year, crazy) with 1 Peter 5:6-7 on it. The rest says this: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
There are days, and it feels like many these days when it seems a triumph to get through the day. Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a triumph to get through a day, but not of your strength. It is a triumph of God’s grace to us in Christ. We live in a world where the flesh and the devil are ranged against you, as Peter said, but if you are in Christ, you have a faithful Saviour who is Jesus Christ, and he is for you and will never fail you. He will carry you through. Even today. So what do we do? Day by day, we cast ourselves and all our burdens on the Lord because he cares for us. Don’t let today pass without thinking about this; dwell on the truth of God’s Word. It will be soon enough we will be together with our Lord. We do live in a land of in-between. We do live in two cities. We do live in this “there” but “not yet”, but we do have this great Saviour, and all His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20).
I enjoy art—painting, sculpturing, music, anything that is seeking to communicate what I am feeling. I’m none of these things, but I praise God for how he as gifted others with these abilities. As I look at this sculpture, I do see how I feel many days. But I’m reminded of God’s amazing grace all at the same time. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Praise God. So I cast all my cares, worries, anxieties, unknowns, depression, sin, frustrations on the one who will carry me through. It’s in his strength I continue on, knowing that in Christ, he is still working in me.