It’s hard when you’re in-between. In-between jobs, in-between relationships—limbo.
You feel like you’re drifting purposelessly on an endless sea, going nowhere.
You’re not where you were, and that’s great. You prayed God would get you out of that situation, and he did. That trial is over, thank God!
But you’re also not where you’re going yet. New opportunities haven’t arrived. You’re idle, searching for the next thing. You feel awkward, as if there’s something you’re forgetting, something you should be doing…but you just can’t think of what.
The “in-between” is an important place. It is God’s palette cleanser to take the bitter taste of your last experience out of your mouth. It is a place of rest and refreshment. It’s a place where you’ll actually have extra time to spend seeking God, being rejuvenated in his presence.
God has a purpose in your in-between.
The problem is, we struggle with the in-between places. We want to hurry on to the next thing. We don’t want the soul-searching and self-examination God often allows here. We want the flurry of activity and to “get on with life.”
I think too many people use activity as a drug. They allow their job and perpetual hobbies to help them avoid any introspection. You never hear the conversation God is trying to have with you because your life never stops talking long enough to pay attention.
Also, you start getting scared because Satan convinces you this land of limbo may be your permanent place of exile. All your motivational instincts kick in, telling you “Nothing changes until you move,” and other mottos fit for the flat-white walls of cheap business offices. You simply must “do something.” If not, you are lazy or unmotivated, lacking initiative or ambition or a hundred other words feeding your fears.
You work at one job, while hoping for another. You live in one home, wishing for more space. You drive one broken-down car, wondering when you’ll ever have something dependable. You hope, you wish, you wonder…and you wait.
And you let worry and fear eat you from the inside out.
A while back I was sick. Nothing major, just the same sinus infection I get about twice a year. But it usually takes my voice away, which makes it hard to preach or sing…which is like tying the hands of a painter.
I could have had a lovely week meditating on God, spending extra time with him and listening for his voice. Instead, I mostly grumped around the house, making everyone else miserable. “Physician, heal thyself” indeed!
When the children of Israel wandered around the wilderness for forty years, God sent them manna. I absolutely love the fact that the word actually means, “What is it?” I appreciate God dropping a cute little pun in his Word just to make me sit up and take notice!
Manna was a bread-like substance which gathered on the ground each morning for the people to eat. But you couldn’t be responsible and store it up, because it would rot by the next day. So you had to eat it, and then trust God would send it again every single morning. I don’t know about you, but that would have driven me crazy.
Additionally, it might also have taught me to trust God for my needs.
You see, I like to be in control of providing for myself because I know I can count on me. No trust needed—I will always be sure to come through for myself! It’s when God asks me to trust him to provide that I start getting nervous. That takes things out of my control. It makes me like a child, dependent on the goodness of my Father.
Sometimes you just get tired of your temporary provision. The Israelites complained about the monotony of eating manna every day, wishing for the exotic repast of their former country. But returning to that land would have meant returning to slavery. And God’s destiny for them was much greater than that.
Destiny is always a package deal, usually accompanied by both risk and trust.
The good news is that your in-between place is only temporary. When it was time to step into the promised land, the manna stopped. That’s your cue God is about to do something!
So don’t be scared when you lose that “manna,” whether it is a job, money, or opportunities. It was never your destination—it was only a rest stop along your journey.
I was blessed in that I had already planned a week of vacation. So that by the end of that time I hopefully learned to stop cursing my “in-between” week of sickness and actually enjoy another “in-between” week away—relaxing and focusing on the Father who planned that time away with me. I guess he knew I needed a week to ramp up to relaxation and to detox from my addiction to control.
If you are in that in-between place today, pray with me:
Okay, God. I’m listening. Speak to me. Refresh me and renew my mind. Thank you for leading me out of my captivity in my own personal “Egypt.” Don’t let me get scared when the manna stops, but recognize it signals a new destiny.
And don’t let me be surprised when I see the waters parting once again.
Dave Gipson is a husband, father of 4 adopted children and one biological child, former foster parent, and pastor at Naples Family Church of Naples, FL. An author, Dave's new highly acclaimed book, "The Seven Surprises: Everyday Epiphanies on Being a Better Human Being," is now available. He also contributes regular commentaries to the Naples Daily News as well as other international publications. He has served churches for the last 25+ years, from Florida to the inner-city of Chicago. Rev. Gipson holds his ordination in the Southern Baptist denomination, and has two earned Masters degrees in Religion and Divinity. Read more at http://davegipson.net.Follow him on Twitter at @realdavegipson.