I am wearing boots today. Brown leather ankle ones with a cognac colored strap that loops around the top of the boot thrice.
By anyone’s estimation this boot was meant for fall, possibly winter.
I wear them even though the professionals at The Weather Channel believe this day will approach 96 degrees.
But it’s October, folks. So by golly, I am wearing boots.
Lest you think I have lost my mind, I want you to know that I have paired these boots with a breezy silk dress that has no sleeves. The color is slate and here in Texas we call summer clothes made in fall colors “transitional.”
My transitional outfit signifies two things. First, I long for the cooler temperatures and resulting wardrobe change of fall. Second, I am down-right convinced that fall will arrive on a crisp breeze.
I chose to dress for the already-but-not-yet and I feel noticeable.
In Christian circles that phrase bounces around like the rubber balls in Jose Gonzalez’s video for Heartbeats.
“We live in the already-but-not-yet.”
We say it time and again because it’s true; it is perpetually October in Dallas.
Days marked by transition and waiting don’t make up the easiest of times. In this place of tension gratitude meets longing, fulfillment meets patience, and praises meet requests. It’s also where answers circle back around to more questions and where our today’s forget about the reality of our tomorrow.
Transition is tricky. But it always has been. Never one to back down from the hard stuff, Paul has some things to say about life in timeline limbo:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
I can’t help but see in this text one of the spiritual equivalents to my breezy dress and boots: hope.
Jesus died and rose again: that already happened. But Jesus will return once more and all believers who have died and those alive when he returns embark on our first day of a perfect forever: we are still waiting on that part.
Yes, says Paul, it is October in Texas. And that changes everything.
Specifically, in this text, that changes how we mourn.
This year provided our family with reason on reason to mourn. A friend experienced miscarriage. Another friend died of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. We are aching as another walks the road of trisomy 18 with their unborn son.
So we mourn.
But we try to mourn transitionally. We desire to mourn hopefully.
Our hope signifies two things. First, we long for the days that lack a reason to mourn and provide only reason to celebrate. Second, we are down-right convinced that Christ will arrive in triumph over death.
This reality of Christ’s return is the wardrobe from which I dress myself in hope.
And let’s not forget, it’s noticeable.
The very beginning of these verses tell us that there are those who mourn without hope.
But the hopeless are drawn to the hopeful and the hopeful have a story to tell. It is the story of the already-but-n0t-yet; the story of the reason for their hope. We have the story of the gospel.
So the question is what wardrobe are you dressing out of? The wardrobe of past disappointments? The wardrobe of today’s frustrations? Or the wardrobe of the reality of Christ’s return?
May we be Christians who chose the latter and clothe ourselves in the leather ankle boot and silk dress of our Christian October—hope.