Kara’s Collection: Josh Garrels, Farther Along

from an article originally posted April 27, 2014...

One evening two lovely ladies came by and dropped off a cd of music they loved for encouragement. I have played and played the cd, especially this song.

As I was writing The Hardest Peace, I uncovered something I have quietly believed in my life of faith. It’s similar to this song I suppose: the idea of understanding and answers will come as we move farther along. In Presbyterian circles, we use a certain word a LOT! Sanctification. It’s a big Bible word. The word is essentially the process of God’s refining in love and grace. It’s beautiful business. It’s this beautiful process of moving nearer to Jesus, knowing his goodness and grace. But there are two other big Presbyterian words: Justification and Glorification. Actually, Presbyterians would be mad if I said they were Presbyterian words because they are Bible words. They are just words I had not heard before I entered the Presbyterian Church. Justification is the coming to faith, being Justified by the work of Jesus, and Glorification is what happens when we die. So Justification (coming to faith), sanctification (the growth in understanding and grace), and glorification (when I go to meet Jesus). But here is the amazing now-and-not-yet of these words. When I was justified May 4, 1994, when Jenny Gates introduced me to Jesus and his redemptive grace and forgiveness, my Glorification was sure, so they live in unison with one another. Now I live in the edges of Sanctification. All these ideas can be seen in the rich chapter of Romans 8.

Here is the lie I believed about Sanctification: I felt if my life could be described it would be an arc. That when I came to the moment of my death, all the loose ends of my life would be neatly tied up and I would be glory bound. As a person that deeply loves reconciliation, I thought this was what the end would look like. I will never forget the moment my editor told me this wasn’t true. Then over weeks of writing, we met again and I cried big tears that I didn’t want him to be right. In Heaven all is made right, but maybe not here. It is my heart, my prayer, my hope but my understanding of what I once thought is changing.

So this beautiful, beautiful song—the idea that farther along we will understand—why? Well, I believe we will in some ways, and in some ways we will not understand until Heaven. We see the knotty backside of the tapestry, and in Heaven the beautiful art of our life in faith will be revealed. So I do believe the farther along, but I kind of feel that understanding will come in the next place.

How have you lived in the now-and-not-yet tension of faith and death? How is the refining work of Jesus working in your life today? Do you know the goodness of Jesus and his grace today?