Between now and not yet


Chuck Tabor - Contributing columnist



They call it “the born again beach.” Here’s how a British newspaper described the “rebirth” of a lost beach:

“An Irish beach that disappeared more than 30 years ago has returned to an island off the County Mayo coast. The sand at Dooagh, Achill Island, was washed away by storms in 1984, leaving only rocks and rock pools. But after a freak tide around Easter in 2017, hundreds of tons of sand were deposited around the area where the beach once stood, recreating the old 300-meter stretch of golden sand. Local people are using the word ‘miraculous’ to describe the beach’s ‘renewal. An official for the areas tourism board explained why pilgrims are flocking to the site: ‘We live in a dark world these days so I think that is why there has been so much interest in Dooagh beach since the story broke. For something like our beach to come back gives people hope. It’s a good news story and one where nature has done something benign for a change.’”

We all love good news stories such as this. They give us hope that even after 30 years, miraculous things can and do happen.

As we face the continuing saga of COVID-19, and the changing environments surrounding our very existence, as we deal with the “new normal” — whatever that is, we find ourselves in that great vacuum of life when we’re neither here nor there. Much of our life is spent in the in-between time, between our current reality and anticipated future.

When will this pandemic be over? When will our lives really return to “normal”?

For the nation of Israel, about 2,500 years ago, their times were, in a sense, similar to ours. The waiting game was ongoing for them.

A remnant of Israelites had returned to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon. For about 15 years, under the leadership of three men, Zerubbabel, Joshua, and Haggai, they had been working to rebuild the temple, but it still lay in ruin. There were all sorts of issues, political and otherwise, including drought and food shortages (toilet paper?) which had paralyzed the process and taken the heart out of the people.

They were challenged, in despair, experiencing a lack of hope, planted squarely between the now and the not yet!

In Haggai 2:4-9, the prophet gave three sustaining truths for living between the now and the not yet.

The presence of God is necessary for us to make it through, to keep hope, and to know that we do not need to depend on our strength alone to finish the journey. Haggai 2:4 says, “… be strong … and work … For I am with you, declares the LORD.”

The promises of God give confidence to press on. Haggai continues: “This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear” (Haggai 2:5).

When we know that God has spoken to us through His Word and has made His path clear before us, the journey, no matter how rock-strewn, takes on new hope.

The vision of God emboldens and stirs hope. In Haggai 2:6-9, God tells the persevering leaders and builders, “I will fill this house with glory … the glory of this present house will be greater than the former house … and in this place I will grant peace.”

Keeping the vision of the glorious end of the road, the future as God has painted it, sustains hope.

In the end, keeping in mind these principles, the temple was rebuilt and for the God-fearing Jews worship was restored there.

In dealing with the issues of a global pandemic or a national racial crisis, or whatever challenges, trials, or waiting God has for you in this moment, these sustaining truths – the presence of God, the promises of God, and the vision of God –will make your path a straight one.

The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah not to worry, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

We may not experience a “born-again beach” type of miracle in the days and weeks ahead, but in spite of all the hardship we are facing each day because of this coronavirus pandemic, God still has plans to give you and me a hope and a future.

Take stock in that! Believe that!

Live in light of that!

God bless …

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at cdtabor3@gmail.com.

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Chuck Tabor

Contributing columnist