life

In the middle

I’m reading (among other things…y’all know how I roll) Everyday Holy by Melanie Shankle. It’s so good! It contains 100 devotions (in 222 pages so do the math. It fits into your day.)

Today she tied into the Israelites leaving Egypt and how God could have taken them straight there to Canaan but then the story would have been different. It’s the stuff in the middle, the trials and hardships, that made their story matter, that changed them and challenged them.

It’s the middle that usually defines who we are and who we’ll become. (T)hat story is found in the middle places between where we’ve been and where we’re going, in the middle places of where we don’t want to be and where his promises are revealed, in the middle places of difficult days and who God is shaping us to be.

The middle can be rough, challenging, and quite frankly no fun. I’ve been in the middle of something for a while, and let me tell you, I want to get to the other side. I’ve told you that before. In the middle of this season, I want to know it’s going to end. I want to know there’s another season ahead, and I want to get to that season, because quite honestly this season is too hard.

But maybe it’s all in how you look at things. Yes this season has been unbelievably difficult, and I’ve wanted to give up and run away so many times. But, it’s in the middle of this season that God is challenging me, changing me, and molding me. Without what happened and the trials that happened after, I wouldn’t have felt a need to be different. I would have continued my Sunday morning relationship with God and my Monday-Saturday relationship focused on the world.

This middle section is where I’m changed. If I truly embrace the middle and allow God to meet me in the middle, then I can carry this change into the end, which transitions to a beginning of something else. This middle, where it feels like I’m always one step ahead of (or sometimes behind) the next storm, this is where the good stuff might happen. This is where God wants to challenge and change me.

But still I tend to try to rush out. I want a new season because I hope the next one will be more like fall: cool, crisp and hopeful, and less like summer: sweltering, stifling, brutal. I want to run forward but until I embrace this part of the journey, I cannot fully enjoy the next. Likely I need to complete my walk through the middle or I’ll just wander around lost and circle back around to the middle of this season again. And, as much as I can appreciate what I’ve been taught here, I don’t want to circle back.

It’s in the middle that we often experience the heartbreak and hard times of life, but it’s in those times when we see God for who he really is if we stop and look.

The middle is hard, friends. Sometimes it feels like the same lessons are presented over and over again. It’s hard to stay the course.

I’m sure it was hard for the Israelites to wander around following Moses too. How many of them wanted to turn back to Egypt? Ok yup tired of walking; I’m just going back. But then they would have been right back where they started.

I don’t know about you, but as hard as the middle is, I want to push forward to the end, not go back to the beginning. So I challenge us all, me included, to embrace this middle, whatever middle you’re apart of, and look for what God is doing here in the middle. He wants to meet us in the middle and walk us through. He wants to change us and shape us into whoever he needs us to be for the next journey. He wants to take us to the promise land, and friends, I want to go there.

So that’s the challenge. We need to change our mindset about the middle. Let’s try to see it less as a curse and more as a challenge to greatness. If God didn’t want great things from us, he would have left us in Egypt where we were. Big things are coming. I can feel it. I bet you can too if you’re just still.

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