Living in the In-Between

Originally published Monday, 08 July 2013.

I wrote in my prayer journal the other day that I felt like I was stuck in the in-between. Again. It seems like I'm always somewhere between where I've been and where I want to be. It's an unsettling feeling and I often wonder, will I ever get to the end? Will I ever feel settled and at peace with where I am?

Last month, we traveled out of state for the whole month. For weeks we lived out of suitcases and plastic bins. My kids had only one plastic bin of legos and some toy cars to play with. For the whole month. It's hard being without all your favorite things when you travel. You can never get too settled because you know it's not permanent. We lived a whole month of being in-between and it reminded me of all the other areas of my life where I am stuck in the waiting room of life, wondering when I'll be called next.

Much of life is lived in between. We all have hopes and dreams, goals and plans. Most often, those goals seem far away and out of reach. Always hoping for something better, we live life dissatisfied and disappointed. For those times that we do reach what we hoped for, it turns out to be less than we thought. So we live with a constant ache, a taste for something sweeter that we know exists but we've just not found it yet.

Disappointments, unmet needs, and the hardness of life were not part of the original created order. We were all created to experience joy, love, and satisfaction in all that we set out to do. But all of that changed when Adam and Eve sinned.Their sin damaged the perfect relationship they had with their Maker and their lives were never again the same. Sickness, sadness, and death entered the world. Adam and Eve then became stuck between what they knew as perfect and beautiful and the uncertainty of life ahead.

Ever since, our own hearts have been filled with an aching, a longing to find that completeness and wholeness we were created for. Scripture says that eternity has been set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We know that life isn't what it should be; we know there is something greater. Yet we seek to fill our eternal longings with dreams of things we can hold and see, taste and touch. We follow distractions that lead us down rabbit trails to dead ends. Like an imagined oasis in the desert, we follow our mirages until we arrive and find it was never there to begin with. Until we find the source of our longing, we remain searching, our hearts unsettled and restless.

Adam and Eve were promised a Redeemer who would come to rescue and restore what their sin had damaged. We live on the other side of that promise fulfilled. Christ has come. By his perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection, he has purchased our redemption. Because of him, our relationship is once again restored with our Creator. For those who are in Christ, we have found the One who fills all the emptiness, heals all our brokenness, and satisfies our deepest longings.

Even still, there remains for us as Christians, an in-between. We live between the already and not yet. For those who call Christ their Lord, we are already part of the family of God but we've not yet entered our heavenly home. We are already redeemed, found perfect in the eyes of God, but our sin has not yet been purged. We are saved from the power of sin but have not yet been freed from the presence of sin.

Living in the in-between, we are merely travelers in a world that is not our home. We are spiritual nomads, following God wherever he leads, until he calls us home. Like Abraham, we live by faith, looking forward to our eternal home. Never settled or attached to this world, we invest our lives in the world to come.

So how does one live in the in-between? Do we just sit around and wait for our time here to be up? How do we hold this world loosely, while still fulfilling our calling here? What about our hopes and dreams--how do we wait for the new job we need, the pregnancy we long for, the healing of illness and all those other in-between's?

"Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:5-11)

No matter what our in-between is, whether it's waiting for a move, seeking a new job, praying for healing, the slow growth in holiness, or awaiting the new heavens and new earth, wherever we are, we are to enjoy God and bring him glory.

Today in the here and now. This is our purpose. This is what we were made for.

While we await the future, living in-between what lies ahead, we are to enjoy God. He alone fulfills all our needs and meets our deepest longings. Growing in our love of God, glorying in his presence, and simply living in wide eyed wonder at his goodness and faithfulness is what it means to enjoy him. It means dwelling on his grace, mercy, and love demonstrated for us at the cross. It means saturating our heart with the truth of who we are because of what Christ did for us at the cross. No matter what we are waiting for, no matter where we are in the in-between, the opportunities and reasons to enjoy God are endless.

Not only were we made to enjoy God, we were also made to glorify him. Even in the midst of our in-between's, we can bring him glory in the way we live out our faith. Pointing others to Christ, sharing our joy in the Lord, and telling others how the gospel has sustained us during our darkest hours, all brings him glory. As Peter wrote, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15). As our Creator and Sustainer of life, God is worthy of all glory and praise. We bring him great glory as we gives him thanks and praise for all he has done. Our enjoyment of him will only increase as we worship and glorify him.

I am back home from my extended trip, unpacked and settled in to life again. The tension of being unsettled for the past month made me think about all the other areas of my life where I live in-between--between where I am and where I want to be. Being in-between is a fact of life for us all and it's the daily reality of a Christian. It's also a reality that we need to know how to live out. Yet no matter where we are in our individual in-between's, we know our calling for each and every moment--to enjoy God and bring him glory. This is our purpose. This is what we were made for.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17