The Gift of the In-Between

Many of you know that a big part of our family’s journey the last year and a half has been leaving ministry, moving to a new city and new job, and me starting work on my PhD. It has been an interesting time in our lives. We left some good people and good friends in Wichita. We also have had change some of our relationships due to not being in ministry any more. There are times when we look back longingly over the past.

On the other hand, now I am working on this degree. I am working toward something I hope will materialize in the future. There is the temptation to say: If I can just get there, then we will have “arrived.”

in-betweenIt is often a place of being “in-between” which can be troubling.

Yet “in-between” actually seems to be a more constant state of existence. I often find myself feeling “in-between” and find many people share this experience. There is always something on the horizon, which we assume will change everything. Then when we move to the next thing, we discover we haven’t arrived, but are in a new state of in between.

We buy the idea that there is something better awaiting us, so the state of being “in-between” is something we have to suffer right now.

But what if this “in-between” feeling is not actually something we have to suffer? What if we could see being “in-between” as a gift?

I listened to a talk this week from Josh Graves on the Emmaus Road text. He talked about how this is a text where we find people who are “in-between.”

These two people came to Jerusalem to follow a Messiah. They had seen other Messiahs rise and fall, but this one was different. This is the one. He will change everything. So they go to see him filled with hope and expectation.

Those hopes and expectations were killed with the man from Nazareth on a Roman cross.

So now they are going home. They have to go home and re-think the direction of their life.

So we find them on the road trying to make meaning out of what happened. Jesus dying has completely disoriented them and they find themselves on the road trying to understand what it all means.

On the road a man shows up.

And this man helps them make meaning out this experience. Not only through helping them see the cross from a new perspective but by completely changing how they view Scripture. He changes everything. But not in the way they thought he would. He transforms their beliefs and values and frames of reference and understanding of themselves and the world and God, then sends them in an entirely new direction filled with hope and joy.

And it happened on the road.

The road was the only place it could happen.

When the two people went to Jerusalem, they knew what to expect. They had it figured out. They had finally “arrived” with the true Messiah.

Had the returned home, Jesus would just be another failed Messiah. They would continue looking at life and Scripture and themselves in the same old way and add one more disappointment to their experience of life.

But on the road, everything changes.

Jesus re-interprets their past, and gives them new direction for the future.

Transformation occurs when we are “in-between.”

Being “in-between” is a gift.

When we accept being “in-between” we realize that life is a journey. Being “in-between” is the nature of being a human being.

This frees us from spending all of our energy on trying to “arrive” and allows us to experience God in the present moment. Transformation doesn’t occur in the future. It occurs now.

A transformative experience of Jesus helps shape the direction we are going, and helps us re-interpret our past.

We have these crystallizing moments where an experience can change everything. We look back over our past, and we see it with new eyes. What once seemed random and chaotic now has meaning and purpose. We see Jesus at work in the darkness and see how even when we felt abandoned, Jesus was there.

Experiencing Jesus in the “in-between” shapes our future and the direction of our life, and it frees us from being stunted by the past.

When we learn to see being “in-between” as a gift, we are then able to experience what Jesus has in this moment. Right here. Right now.

Now is the moment when Jesus wants to show up and change everything.

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