I was catching up on my google reader tonight, and came across this entry (click here for the "on earth as it is in heaven" blog)
There has always been considerable (and somewhat distracting) debate on whether, before Christ returns, things will get markedly worse, get markedly better, or just go on about the same. The answer to that is God’s business, not ours. We’re told to plant and water; God alone controls the results.
Our task as faithful disciples is proclaimed by the Welsh poet Ethelwyn Wetherald:
My orders are to fight;
Then if I bleed, or fail,
Or strongly win, what matters it?
God only doth prevail.
The servant craveth naught
Except to serve with might.
I was not told to win or lose—
My orders are to fight.
I've thought a lot about this. I grew up with a dispensational theological grid that went something like this, "The world is going from bad to worse and just when things can't get any worse, Jesus is going to step in and save us from the Great Tribulation." Or there were speculations about maybe going through half of it, or all of it, but the point was the same- the world is going from bad to worse.
The basic sentiment was that earth is not unlike the public restroom, "Get in there, do your business, and get the heck out as soon as possible. It's dirty in there."
My sheltered theology of youth was soon challenged by a more covenant/reformed theology. Presuppositions about future for Israel, questions about antichrist, tribulation, rapture, etc were challenged in the summer of 1998. That's when I first realized that my dispensational theological grid was a fairly new construct, and not necessarily a historically held view of Scripture. I realized that the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought might actually be a present reality, not merely a future hope. This view seemed a bit more optimistic- there is a way to make this earth look more like heaven.
Where am I now?
It depends on the day, but mostly somewhere in the middle. I can't say what God has in store for Israel (most recently Romans 11 has me thinking there will be something), whether or not there already has been or someday will be a great tribulation, or whether we're in the millenium now or later...
This leads me back to the quote. I love the balance. I love what wells up in me when I ponder the words of that poem. Some days I feel I'm losing, others I sense victory. I'm not sure if my life will end like that of John the Baptist, Stephen, Elijah or Moses.
But at the end of the day, I will continue to fight. God will win.