As some of you know, we have a small but quite lovely balcony that opens off the back of our bedroom. The railing wall that encloses the space is lined with various flowering plants and ivies, and quite a number of herbs, including mint, oregano, rosemary, basil and several varieties of thyme. We have a large potted rose bush that has five pink blooms at the moment, and we also have a Thai chili plant loaded with chili peppers.
The balcony is large enough for a small table and a couple of chairs, and we have sun umbrella to help shade against the intensity of the full afternoon sun. There is usually a very nice breeze and bird song can be heard from the trees in the large courtyard below. It is a little bit of paradise to call our own!
But I am conscious most days that, even in the middle of our little oasis, paradise is not quite yet. Our neighbors downstairs smoke (some days and nights without ceasing, it seems!) and so we get to share their habit both on our balcony and in our bedroom! Today, as I sit here typing, there is a warm but fresh breeze with no smoke, but there is the loud noise of machinery coming from an apartment under construction a few units away. On Monday when I was trying to enjoy my morning coffee on the balcony, someone was operating a weed eater half a block away, but the noise definitely left the experience less than satisfying. Last week, it was the sound of the Hausmeister mowing one day and trimming hedges for several other days. In fact, I am amazed at how much noise our “quiet” neighborhood actually produces in a day’s time–often for no other apparent reason than to diminish my balcony paradise moments!
I am sure those of you who regularly read my posts have come to realize that I am a complainer. I can always find something not quite right with the world! Someone could rightly point out: At least you have flowers and herbs and a balcony with a breeze! Many have the smoke and the noise and worse, without all the lovely parts. It is true. I must learn to control my discontent by learning gratitude for the many blessings I have been given!
At the same time, I believe my balcony experience somehow reflects the larger truth of the new creation, which is “already but not yet.” Paradise lost has already been redeemed, but it is not yet paradise restored. I am already reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, but not yet in perfect fellowship.
When I pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven,” I am very much aware the Father’s will is not yet done on earth as it is heaven. It is not yet even done in me, as it is in heaven. In Christ, all things are becoming new, but there is still much that really is not right with the world. There is much that is not right in me. The ugly and unlovely parts in me, in my marriage, in the world, in the church–are all reminders that God and His grace in Christ must not be taken for granted. I still desperately need Jesus as much as I ever have.
And so, may I be motivated by both the beautiful and the ugly parts of everyday life to pursue the One who has begun a new work in me and who will, by His grace, complete it in Christ Jesus.