As I drove towards Connecticut and across the Tappan Zee Bridge, it seemed as though I was leaving my past behind me and my new life was in front of me. In some ways I felt like Abram leaving the land he lived to go to the land God showed him or Joshua crossing the Jordan river into the Promised Land. I felt God had led me to this new job and new place. I had a dream of becoming GREAT at this job and my new life would fill my heart’s desire. By trusting and following God all would be well. On my mind was the following quote.
“When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of two things will happen. Either there will be something solid for you to stand on - or you will be taught how to fly.” - Patrick Overton
As a follower of Christ, I took this this as Jesus would give me the solid place to stand or He would teach me to fly.
But, my new life didn’t go as planned. My job took a different direction. Promises made by my employer vanished and a life hoped for didn’t work out. I felt Connecticut had became a metaphor for everything but my Promised Land.
Where is God when We are in the Middle of Pain and Disappointment?
Maybe your life hasn’t gone as planned either. Many of us are in THE MIDDLE, using a different word picture for ‘the middle’ than Pastor Andy. Here, THE MIDDLE is the middle of waiting for a blessing, for prayer to be answered, or a bad situation to be taken away.
We want an opportunity in our jobs
We want a job
We want healing in a relationship
We want a relationship
We want healing from sickness
We want to be loved
We want a child
We want a family
THE MIDDLE is God is telling us - not yet. The MIDDLE could be waiting for something small, but often it is waiting for something that is huge in our lives.
The MIDDLE means disappointment, hurting, pain and loss. It is often God building us up for what he has planned for us and we can only learn what we need to while we are in THE MIDDLE.
It is hard to see outside of our circumstances in THE MIDDLE when we have waited a long time for God’s blessing or suffered setback - after setback. It is easy to think God has forgotten us.
However, there is purpose in the pain as there are things you can only learn while you are in THE MIDDLE.
Sometimes God delays what we want in order to give us something better than we think we need. That is difficult to understand when we have lost that thing we wanted or we are redirected on the path we were heading.
As Pastor Andy said, “Often the situation that we want changed is what God uses to change us. He is more interested in preparing your character than giving you what you want or making sure you are comfortable.”
We Must Exist in God's Timing
In THE MIDDLE, there are things which are available to us now and things which are not available to us now, but will be available to us later, as part of God's plan.
We are often in a hurry, but God isn't. That is why there is a delay between asking God and receiving his blessing in THE MIDDLE. Some of you may remember from Daring Faith where Pastor Rick Warren described this as ‘planting and harvesting.’ We can't expect the crop to come in the day after we plant it or our prayers answered immediately after we pray them.
What you ask for and need might fall in line with God’s teachings, but a delay is not God saying no. You and I may not be ready for His final blessing. God sees all time, is all knowing, and doesn't make a mistake. God's perfect timing is best in our lives.
What Does Scripture Say About THE MIDDLE?
We must stay connected to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit while in THE MIDDLE. When we do, He unfolds the plan for our lives, one step at a time. We must point our compass vertically to God in prayer and listen to Him through the scriptures to stay closely connected to Him during this time. This connection to God will create a more intimate relationship with Jesus and we will walk closer with Him as He works us through to our blessing.
Wait on the Lord
Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psalm 27: 11-14
God Has a Very Good Plan for You
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Ask Him to Guide You and Fulfill Your Needs
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Don’t Be Anxious but Pray and Be Thankful
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
We Won't Be Disappointed By God If We Wait
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
What Does Waiting on the Lord in THE MIDDLE Mean?
Waiting in THE MIDDLE is NOT doing nothing. It is NOT putting our lives on hold. We must CONTINUE to:
Serve - Volunteer
Interact with other Christians
Learn about God and stay in His Word
Believe in God and His plan
We must continue to be guided by God and trust Him. Even when our future is unclear. We enter a time of ACTIVE STILLNESS. God can’t steer us in the right direction if we are sitting completely still. Some suggest keeping a journal and writing down everything you are learning during this time.
Don’t Do It on Your Own
Sometimes, when we have waited and waited with no solution, we make a decision outside of God's instruction and His guidance, and do things on our own.
I have fallen into that trap many times in my life and decided to ignore God's teachings and direction. In doing so, I disrupted God's plan for my life or missed his plan.
We make mistakes when we point our compass to someone or something other than God.
But, God is good. He will make another plan for you if you fall back into connection with Him. He will take you where you are and give you a whole new beginning.
Before I left Maryland I confided in a friend and told him I was thinking about turning down the job offer in Connecticut. He told me I would be turning my back on God's plan for me. Today, that is very hard for me to understand especially in the sorrow and loneliness I am in currently.
For me, THE MIDDLE is hard. I don't write these things as an expert or as someone who has mastered waiting in the MIDDLE and waiting on God. This information is important for me to learn, too.
I have prayed for and desire many things which include removal of loneliness, a purpose in this stage of my life, and some things that are voiced only between me and God.
I ask that you, who are also in THE MIDDLE, walk beside me. Some of you are friends, and others I don’t know. The only thing you may feel we have in common is that you are waiting, too.
Remember these things according to the scripture while you are in THE MIDDLE:
God has a very good plan for you
You must ask him to guide you and you must ask him to give you your needs
Be thankful when you pray, not anxious, and you will be at peace with God.
You won't be disappointed with God by waiting on Him
We show God we are honoring and glorifying His Lordship when we acknowledge His power, knowledge and timing. We are obedient when we stay in His Word, listen to His direction for our lives, and pray for our desires and needs.
What God has planned for us may not be ours today. We don't have to fear losing. God will provide us what we need in His plan because He is a loving God. When we follow and obey Him, He keeps His promises.
Stay strong in THE MIDDLE. As Pastor Rick Warren says: In many ways, we must always walk through the wilderness to make it to the Promised Land.