Last time, I mentioned three things that you imply when you say the word “until,” and talked about the first…
1. The outcome is sure.
2. BUT the outcome is not immediate; we must wait.
3. The situation we wait for will replace the situation that exists now.
And now for PART 2: Not Immediate, But Inevitable
Think back to when you had a child or younger sibling or cousin who had not learned to walk. Babies are not born with the ability to walk, but most have the capacity to walk. They just have to develop enough physically and neurologically. So the question someone asked, the one that started my whole word study, is this:
How long do you continue helping your baby learn to walk?
The answer, of course, is “Until he/she is walking.” No parent will answer with a deadline: “Up to fourteen months old, and that’s it.”
And no one keeps Baby buckled in a car seat all the time, until 11 or 12 months of age, and then takes him out, expecting him to start toddling all at once. There’s a process, one that usually involves crawling and “standing” supported on adults’ laps and pulling up and cruising and falling down a lot.
God also uses a process to bring about his “untils.” If you wake up at 4:00 in the morning, it’ll be dark (at least here in the Southern US). But you don’t have to wonder whether God is about to flip a switch to “turn on the sun” at 4:05, or whether it will stay pitch dark until 10:30. That’s because the earth is constantly rotating toward the next sunrise. You can count on it growing light pretty close to the same time as it did yesterday.
In the same way, God is in the process of growing those who trust him for salvation. As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 29, God predestined them “to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He [Jesus] would be the firstborn of many brethren.” (The word “become” suggests the process; “predestined” and “would be” suggest the inevitable outcome.)
Oh, and about my brilliantly original sunrise analogy, God already used it — in Proverbs 4:18…
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
For me, the most exciting reference to this process is in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory…
“From glory to glory…” step by step, all of them glorious. And Paul further encourages us that this bright outcome is inevitable. In Philippians 1:6 he writes,
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
However much we mess up, God is always in the process of changing his faith children, making us more like his Son. It’s his power that does this, not our efforts. (See Jude, v. 24-25).
Of course, the more we cooperate with him, the less painful the whole process is. But don’t feel discouraged if you slip up or get tired along the way. He never gives up on you.
It’s all part of the process.
Thanks for reading,