“We are good at starting and we are good at finishing. But we don’t know what to do with ourselves in the in-between.”Mari Andrew, My Inner Sky.
Navigating life in-between loss and recovery is a challenge that reveals the frailty of our humanity and the deep longing for divine hope in the space of uncertainty. The moment of loss is heart wrenching, but then comes the terrible day by day slogging to learn how to walk and love again.
Mari Andrew writes, “When I got out of the hospital…people kept asking me when I’d get better, but I had no idea what that would look like, or even if it was possible for me. It was a period of waiting.”
Waiting is hard. Especially in times when everyone says that things will never go back to “normal.” We often fail at waiting, life in the in-between because it involves trusting in everything we believe in but can’t see through tear-filled eyes. We don’t want to let go for fear of falling, unable to see the next toe hold on the way to a safe place. Yet for people of faith in the everlasting God, waiting holds promise:
That word “but” is so important. Yes, there is an exchange that happens when the Everlasting God, the one who does not grow weary, graciously makes his vitality available to those whose strength is failing. And the waiting is not passive or lifeless, but a time of actively walking in confident expectation. Those who give up their anxious efforts to save themselves will be able to replace or exchange their souls sucked dry for a renewed, soaring strength.
I’d like to briefly offer two stories of two completely different Biblical characters that stand out as examples of this great “exchange” of power and life.
FIRST, we find Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, running away from his family problems that are mostly born of his trickery and greed. Now he is alone, readying himself to face the wrath or mercy of his brother Esau. Throughout the night he “wrestles” with an angel of the Lord God, and it seems neither one was winning until the one wrestling, “touched Jacob’s hip socket and put it out of joint.” Jacob tells God he will not let go until “you bless me.” Jacob is blessed with a new name, but the touch leaves him limping.
Aren’t our encounters with God much the same? Many times, I have been awake “wrestling” with the covers, myself, and with God in the middle of the night, wanting, needing answers, healing, and peace. The morning often reveals my wounded-ness, the reminder of my humanity, my sin, and the need for blessing, for the encounter with God that Jacob described, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
There is an exchange here that is true, the blessing of a new name, as the one who encounters God in the daily wrestling of faith. Yet there is that limp, the wound of loss we walk with in the in-between until “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
READ Jacob’s story in Genesis 32:22-32. Where do you find yourself wrestling with God? Even as you struggle, don’t let go. Ask God now to bless you.
SECOND. The second story of power exchange is about the woman with that terrible, non-stop bleeding issue who suffered loss and shame at the hands of the inept doctors and her judging community. Even so, she recognized and reached out for Jesus the healer, the Savior, with an amazing certainty and hope for wellness. In the miraculous exchange between her fingers and the hem of his robe, she also found a courageous boldness to tell Jesus and everyone listening, her “whole truth.”
Jesus allows his power to restore wholeness to the broken one who reaches out to him in faith. This time the touch of God not only heals the wound, but the woman hears her new name, “daughter,” and she soars free as the eagle.
READ this story in Mark 5:25-34. What loss or brokenness have you been dealing with for a long time? Imagine yourself as the woman, desperate to overcome shame and fear. See yourself daring to reach out and touch Jesus. Take time now to tell your whole truth to God.
As I have found myself in the In-Between for a long season of waiting, I give thanks for those who have walked alongside: my life partner, spiritual director, soul friends, and family.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”Lamentations 3:25
WORSHIP. Take a walk or find a quiet place to worship with this song, Wait on You, Elevation Worship, based on Isaiah 40:31