in all the in-between
I don’t mean to be controversial, but I am not a huge fan of Oreos (I know, I know- the scandal.) It is just that food items that have one texture on the outside and another on the inside give me the icks. But one thing I do admire about the Oreo is that it is one of the few things where the good stuff is in the middle.
Because usually, the middle – the in-between – is not my favorite.
We face things in this life. We have to fight for them and against them, muddle our way through them, and generally try to learn from them. Whether it is a bad diagnosis, a troubled marriage, a wandering child, or just our overall spiritual journey, the middle of the battle always seems to be the bloodiest.
The beginning is… beautiful, clean, hopeful (think babies and gardening.)
The ending is… victorious, wise, nostalgic (think old men and a good book.)
But the middle is… messy, swirly, fierce (think puberty and baking.)
It was always this way, you know.
When God created the Heavens and the Earth, it was perfect. There was hope and promise. God spoke it, so it was, and it was good.
And when God brings all we know to an end, it will again be perfect. There will be healing and redemption. God promised it, so it will be, and it too will be good.
But in the middle of these beautiful bookends is all the in-between. It is far from perfect. There is angst and suffering. But God wills it, and so it is, and it is still good.
I am in the in-between right now. I am in the middle of fighting hard for something and learning from it. I am messy and weepy and tired. I am yearning for the happy ending.
But God is showing me that perhaps the middle of the story is the very purpose for which the story was written to begin with. I mean, let’s think about it (all C.S. Lewis style): Without a middle, there can be no happy ending. And really, the happy ending is nothing more than a celebration for having survived the middle. And certainly, without a happy ending, there would be no purpose for the beginning to have begun at all.
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem like we spend most of our time and energy either (1) wishing we could go back to the beautiful beginning or (2) trying to hurry up and get to the happy ending? Doesn’t it feel like life might be a whole lot better/easier if we could skip all the messy middle?
But the middle is the meat. And I need only look around me in life or in the pages of the Bible to see that it’s the middle that matters.
The middle – the in between – is where our faith is built and broken.
The middle is where we are tossed about and tested.
The middle is where we are honed and healed.
The middle is where we are refined and rebuilt, cleaner and stronger than before.
The middle is where our hope seems lost but our purpose is found.
The middle is where God whispers.
The middle is where we are actually willing to listen.
The middle is where we find out who our friends are.
The middle is where we find out who we are.
The middle is where we find out who God is.
Sure, God made the beginning. And yes, because of God, there is sweet victory in the end. But I am finding that God really shines and does His very best work in the middle.
Maybe you too, are thrashing about in all the in-between. I don’t know what you are dealing with today – what struggles you are facing or battles you are fighting. But I know the God who made the beginning- made YOU- for a purpose. He is the same God who is sovereign over the ending – sovereign over YOU- for the victory. And He is the same God who is present in the middle – present in YOU – for the journey.
He is The Alpha and The Omega. He is The Beginning and The End. And He is the God who meets us in the middle; this messy, swirly, fierce middle. He is the God of all the in-between.
a verse and a song
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14
Will you meet me in the middle, will you meet me in the air?
Will you love me just a little, just enough to show you care?
Well I tried to fake it, I don’t mind sayin’, I just can’t make it…
Sister Golden Hair, by America