In the in-between time
Somewhere on a highway between two tiny North Carolina towns.
I heard a great sermon this past Sunday entitled, "In Between."
The pastor spoke about God's promises to Abraham: "I will make of you a great nation. You will have more descendants than there is sand on the sea shore. You will have a promised land and ongoing generations of sons and daughters." To a man who had no children, I am sure those promises sounded like a pretty good deal. Lots of children and grandchildren in land all their own. Who wouldn't want all that good stuff? All those blessings?
What God didn't tell Abraham was about all the difficulties, all the trials, all the losses and pain and lies and near fatalities that would happen in between the giving of the promise and the fulfillment of it. Abraham didn't know that he'd have to wait decades for the birth of his son, Isaac. Or that his sons, Ishmael and Isaac, would engage one another in disputes and disagreements and battles that would continue for centuries. There was a whole lot in the "in between" that Abraham didn't know.
The minister's question to the congregation was this: if Abraham had known all that was going to come in between receiving that promise and seeing that promise come to life, would he have embarked on the journey? Would he have signed up for all those children and all that land if he knew it would involve so much pain?
Looking down on a street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina - which way do I go? Which way do I go?
What about me? If I had known that being a wife and mother, a sister-in-law, and a daughter-in-law would have all the challenges they have, would I have signed up? If I had known that there would be financial and medical and relational and familial and personal struggles and battles, would I have said, "I do" on that hot day in June of 1991?
I knew that marriage was going to be tough.
I knew that being a mother would be the most demanding job I would ever have.
But I had no idea all the tears I would shed.
All the fears I would endure.
All the doubts and worries and "what ifs."
All the times I would wonder aloud and in my journal: "What the heck was I thinking? Where am I going? How will I get there? Where is the 'better' in the 'for better or worse'?"
I can barely see two feet in front of me; how will I ever know when to turn right or left? When to around and go the other way???
I had no idea that the "in between time" would feel so unsettled.
With all its ups and downs, noises and silence, emptiness and fullness,
barrenness and fertility, joy and sorrow.
It's all part of the deal.
Complicated. Confusing. Combustible.
Unfulfilling. Unnoticed. Unimportant.
At the other end of the spectrum, I had absolutely no idea that there would be countless hugs and cuddles that would lift my spirits and bolster my wounded soul.
That my children would surprise me with meals in bed and unexpected cards and artwork.
That my husband would save all our frequent flier miles and send me off on solo European jaunts every 12 to 18 months.
I had no idea that my husband and children would develop a sixth sense, an innate ability to know when I need some solitude and leave me to simmer and sulk and ultimately regain and rediscover peace and joy and comfort in between the sheets on my bed and the sheets in my journal.
Sometimes the "in between time" feels interminable and impressive and unfair - until I realize that the "in between time" is my life.
This is not the time between the promise and the fulfillment.
This is the fulfillment. This is my life.
Right here. Right now.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Right here. Right now.