“If I am to live in the flesh, that means a fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.” ~ Philippians 1:22
It is so hard to live in the in between time of “Yes, but not yet.” The anticipation is strongest at life events like getting married, anticipating the arrival of children, moving to a new place. You know it’s going to happen, but you’re living in the in between of what was and what will be.
All Christians live in this in between time, too. Anticipating heaven, knowing it’s ours, but not yet. During the times when we have a clear vision of what lies ahead, it is so hard to not check out of the present moment.
When I’m anticipating a new life event, I find the anticipation helps to reorganize my priorities. For instance, when we were anticipating Ethan, our oldest, we choose to buy a new camera instead of spending the money on a “pre-kid” type toy. Knowing Ethan was on the way also helped show us what was really important, and before he arrived, we also savored our last moments as just us, by going on lots of dates and spending time together.
The same can be said as we anticipate heaven and try to live in light of it. Our anticipation helps to better align our priorities here. We might choose to support a missionary instead of buying a second TV for example. Or we may begin to better understand what’s really important and take time to speak to someone in the line at the grocery or at the park, instead of hurrying on to the next thing on our to-do list.
As I’ve found while anticipating many changes in life, it all seems to boil to down to people and relationships being the most valuable. As the end of a time looms near, it’s not stuff we want more of, it’s time with friends and family.
As I again reach the end time of another “Yes, but not yet” with baby number three, I’m finding this principle still holds true. A few weeks ago as I dropped Ethan off at his first day of school, I had a list of things going through my head that I wanted to get done while I just had one kid. Then I heard Liam’s sweet voice from the back seat, “Are we going home?”
“Yes, buddy, we’re going home for a little bit then we’ll come back and get Ethan.”
“You build me a house?” In that instant, I realize my priorities needed to change. I need to see this last few weeks and days, while Ethan is in school and before baby comes, as opportunities to finally spend some one-on-one time with Liam. Yes, I will need to get chores done some mornings, but the house really can wait. I only have Liam by himself for a limited amount of time and need to invest in that relationship while it’s here.
In learning to keep my eye on heaven and anticipating it, I need to remember the same. It’s the relationships that really matter and need top priority. Sure the house needs cleaning and the chores need done, but when you have the chance choose people and you will never regret it.