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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beware of the "in between"

As Israel is delivered from slavery in Egypt, realizing a dramatic release from their captivity through the display of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, they stand in the place between deliverance and the realization of the full promise of their goal - the Promised Land (Canaan).  They have witnessed great plagues from which they were left unaffected.  Their journey out of Egypt left them with great wealth - slaves set free, given crops, herds, and jewelry galore by their masters of so many years.  The impossible has happened - the Sea parted and they passed on dry ground - while it swallowed up the pursuing armies of Pharaoh.  Then they find themselves in the place "between" here and there.  Isn't this the place we often "forget our heads" and just find ourselves pursuing our "hearts" at times?  You know what I mean - the place where we just forget all God has already been faithful to perform in our lives and focus on the delay as meaning he must have some other intention for us instead.  We forget for a while that he had a master plan for us and drift into our own planning because we just don't like that delay.  I guess this is the danger of the "in between" place in life - it gives US opportunity to take the lead!

Don’t make treaties with any of those people. If you do, it will be like falling into a trap. Instead, you must destroy their altars and tear down the sacred poles they use in the worship of the goddess Asherah. I demand your complete loyalty—you must not worship any other god! (Exodus 34:12-14 CEV)

Between any of our "here" and "there" destinations we find ourselves in the space we call the "in between".  Most of us would agree - we get ourselves in more trouble "in between" than we do in any other place!  Why?  We want things figured out quickly, solved without delay, and come to fruition long before it actually takes the time to "develop" whatever needs to be developed. This is why nurseries sell thousands and thousands of seedlings - people don't want to wait for the seeds to germinate, take root, and sprout.  They want to "see" the potential of the tomatoes actually growing - they don't want to trust the growth to occur just because there was a seed!  We are so impatient, aren't we?  We want the immediate - God wants the "intermediate" to create in us a position of trust, patient endurance, and growing faith. 

As Moses is up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the people were in this place of "in between".  They had about 40 days to just 'lull' around in the wilderness at the foot of the mountain waiting for their leader to come back down.  Yep, they saw the cloud of God's glory surround the mountain. Yep, they knew he went up their to commune with God and even to get God's plan for the next steps they were to take.  Yep, they had the past miracles of God to base their hope for the future upon.  Yep, they were truly blessed people, with great potential, but...they were in the "in between" of realizing what the next steps held for them.  The greatest place of discontent can be when we come off of a "high spot" in our walk with Jesus.  You know what I mean - that place when we slowly realize we cannot ride the wave forever.  

In that place of being "in between", Israel begins to look to what they knew from their past and what they see all around them - idol worship.  The past often plays an important part in how we respond in the moment between deliverance and the full realization of God's best for our lives, doesn't it?  We "revert" to what we know best in those moments when it just doesn't seem like things are "happening" at the pace, or in the way we think they should be happening.  The issues we face in the "in between" are mostly because we aren't willing to wait - we crave the immediate action of our God to do whatever it is he has promised.  Yet, when we compromise with the "in between" we lose out on what God wants to create in us in that place.  I cannot go from being over-weight and feeling snug in a size 14 dress to a size 6 dress overnight. There are a whole lot of "in between" sizes along the way!  I wouldn't wear the size 14 all the way until I realized the size 6 goal.  Why?  It just wouldn't "fit" me any longer.  The place "in between" requires I make some adjustments, doesn't it?  

This is the meat of what I want us to see today - the adjustment period is really just that - adjustment.  We have to get our mind right for the next phase in our lives.  We need to allow our commitment to be tested and tried so we know we are going to be good for the long haul.  We must get to the place where we trust what we cannot see happening in the here and now.  "In between" is the place all this happens.  Jumping ahead of God in this place is definitely dangerous ground to be walking, my friends.  It is a place of where we are indeed tested to see where our loyalty dwells.  In this place of the "in between", we can turn to what we trusted in our past, or what we think will make us happy for the immediate moment, or we can trust the seed planted is taking root deep beneath the surface.  In time, the "fit" of our present will no longer be the "fit" of our future - so we will realize the change and move into the next phase of what God has for us.  As we go from this place of "in between" into the next, we find gradual and consistent growth.  Don't get ahead of God - don't get too far behind him, either!  Keep your focus.  If you do, the "in between" will bring out what God intends.  Just sayin!