I recently discovered there is a town called “Between” in the state of Georgia. It’s called Between because it is located in between two of Georgia’s largest cities – Atlanta and Athens. I was thinking what it must be like for people who are from Between. Probably something like this:
“Where are you from?”
“I live in Between.”
“In between where?”
“In Between, Georgia.”
“In between Georgia and where?”
“Oh, never mind.”
I may not be from Between, Georgia (thankfully), but I feel like I am living ‘in between’ right now. In other words, I am living in the midst of a major transition. I just informed my boss I will not be renewing my news broadcasting contract. It was a decision I felt the Lord was asking me to make before He gave me the next directive. So here I am with no secure job and no clue what is next.
This morning I was uttering the words of Saul (who became Paul) in Acts 22:10 “What shall I do Lord?” I am hearing “Go…” but not sure where yet! Its that feeling where my spirit knows and sees, but my human eyes cannot yet see. It’s like I am literally wedged in between two seasons – ending one and ABOUT to start another, but have to wait for God to unfold the next step. And you know what? Its not a very comfortable place to be.
Have you ever experienced that?
I’ve been struggling to cope with all the emotions that accompany a major transition. It’s like there are arrows flying from every direction trying to take me down and whispering things like, “You’re all alone…you are a fool… did you really hear God’s voice?… How are you going to survive?… God is going to leave you hanging…”
It’s not easy. But as I cling to Him, there are some practical things I can do that help me to REST under the blanket of His love, even when I am living ‘in between.’ They come from one of my favorite verses:
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonian 5:16-18
Be Joyful Always.
I used to think joy was a feeling. But the more I walk with God the more I realize joy is not dependent on our circumstances. Its not affected by the storms or the stagnations life on earth brings. Joy is a choice to remeber what Jesus has done on the cross. And its out of this deep revelation that brings hope and out of that hope is where joy is found.
There was one night last week that I snuggled up under the covers and I cried a river of tears. I felt sad, I felt confused about big decisions that needed to be made, I felt like my world was swirling around in one big cloud of chaos and uncertainty… and yet, I experienced joy at the same time. How can that be you ask? As I laid there and allowed the arms of my Father in heaven to embrace me, I was suddenly was overwhelmed with the simple joy of knowing Him. It was in that moment that I realized joy goes way beyond a feeling. It is a choice. And its one we can make every single moment of every single day. If we do, we WILL be in the will of our Father. He said so.
Living in between often entails periods of waiting for God to reveal the “next step.” Praying, I have discovered is one of the best “fillers” not only of our time but also of our minds.
I am a person who likes to have a plan. If I don’t have a plan, well, my mind will think, and scheme, and dream and think some more about what that plan should be. My thoughts can really run in circles – if I let them. That’s where prayer has really proven to help. Paul instructs us to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Directing my thoughts in prayer is a way of helping us keep in line with God’s plans. Choosing a lifestyle of prayer – talking to God throughout our day – is just another way of saying, “I trust and depend on you Lord. Let Your will, not mine be done!”
Praying for others is also another excellent way to ease times of ‘in between.’ I have found that when I take the focus off myself and shift my focus to pray for others, I am often filled with a deep satisfaction that sustains me through the waiting period.
Give Thanks in all Circumstances.
Giving thanks is not always easy when our circumstances don’t look the way we want them to. I am convicted of all the times I complain about my circumstances and focus on the ‘lack’ or unfulfilled promises of God in my life, rather than the blessings. It’s another choice that we can make, DESPITE what things look like.
I have recently adopted a habit of uttering words of thanksgiving to God throughout my day. Is the weather nice outside? “Thank you Lord.” Was my taxi driver exceptionally friendly? “Thank you Jesus.” Are my legs capable of taking me on a long run? “Thank you Papa.”
It’s easy to thank God when we choose to see all the blessings – big and small – all around us. We can even thank God for the not so good things like a job ending, a relationship breaking up, or a delayed answer to prayer. The Bible says that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and He works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). We will never go wrong giving thanks to Him in ALL circumstances.
Times of transition are not always easy. We can so easily wonder whether we are in the will of God. We worry about stepping outside of it. We fear of making the wrong decision. Or that God has forgotten us all together. But lets not waste another minute on these things! Instead, lets CHOOSE to be joyful always, choose to pray continually and choose to give thanks in all circumstance. If we do, then we can be certain we ARE in the will of God, no matter if we are here, there, or in between.
Food for thought:
1. Have you ever faced an ‘in between’ transition? How did you handle it?
2. How can you apply 1 Thessalonian 5:16-18 in your life? Choose to cultivate a lifestyle of being joyful, praying and giving thanks. Make notes of the difference it makes!