“God is faithful in every high and every low, every mountain and every valley, in all seasons, God is faithful.”
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I live right where the “and” sits in these Christian colloquialisms. Every high and every low. Every mountain and every valley. On your average Tuesday at 2:00pm, I’m not standing with arms stretched high on a mountain, but I am not hugging my knees in a valley either. You would likely find me sitting, working, living. Nothing much to see. No highs, no lows, just somewhere in-between.
There are seasons of life that feel like the middle seat of an airplane. Uncomfortable, but it still gets you where you need to go. The in-between parts of life can be the most frustrating. You feel trapped - you’re not in a place of deep suffering, but you’re not in a place of deep joy. During these in-between seasons, it can feel like God is holding up his finger to your face. But most of life happens here.
God desires to grow us in ordinary, daily, in-between life. Below are four questions formed from the Scriptures to help us get a glimpse into what God might do in the in-between.
1. Am I denying myself?
”Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23)
Our first parents ate a piece of fruit for themselves, with no regard for God or anyone else. Every day since then, we’ve followed in their footsteps. We don’t want to deny our desires, or take death upon our shoulders, or follow anyone but ourselves. If we are in a pattern of self-indulgence, choosing to do what we want to do instead of the flesh-killing work of self-denial, we are not living in obedience to Jesus. Denying ourselves daily can be monotonous work. Am I still ensnared by this? Do I need to repent to my brother again?
Slaying sin is tiresome and is part of the in-between, the already-but-not-yet. But this daily work is sanctifying work, which makes killing sin worth it.
2. Am I meeting with believers?
“They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47)
The earliest Christians prioritized one another. From financial to relational needs, the people of God gave all they could to ensure that every need was met. Life was not lived in isolation but in a family of blood-bought relatives. These daily family gatherings caused them to praise their Father, and daily their Father would adopt more children into the intimate folds of his family.
To be a part of the church is to be a part of an eternal family. And like any family, daily interaction can cause disagreements, tension, and hurtful words. While we must repent and forgive our brothers and sisters, we must recognize our deep need for one another and our need to praise God together. One day, the largest family reunion in the history of the world will take place at God’s dining room table.
3. Am I sharing the gospel?
“Every day in the temple, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:42)
Even amidst persecution, the Christians in Acts made the priority of sharing the good news with others. Nothing prevented the apostles from faithfully sharing, even when their lives were at risk. Jesus commanded his disciples to take the gospels to the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Proclaiming the good news is not an option - it is the calling of the church.
We run the risk of rejection, persecution, and hatred when we share this good news. We may tell a friend one hundred times that Jesus came to earth, died, was buried, and rose again for them. And one hundred times they may deny that He is the Way. One day, Jesus will return and every knee will bow to his lordship whether willingly or forcibly. Until that day, we are called to tell everyone “the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”
4. Am I trusting the promise of eternal glory?
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” - (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
Whether we can see it or not, our outer shell is decaying. The decay can just be small bits every day, or it can be large portions of the part of us we used to love the most. As we decay back into dust, we simultaneously see that our souls are renewed by the Spirit’s work in us. We may not be able to see the decay, but we may not be able to see the Spirit’s work either.
There is a temptation to look at our current state and ponder how God could possibly be at work. We don’t see growth, we don’t see change, nothing is different. How dare we diminish the work of the Spirit to that which is visible to the human eye? What do we know of God’s ways and His plans and His sanctification? We must trust that these in-between days where we can’t see God at work are not signs that he’s turned his back on us, but signs that he’s working in ways that will be breathtaking on the other side of this life. God is preparing “an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” for us in heaven.
What is the point of the in-between? Is God at work in us while we’re in the middle? The in-between looks like repentance of sin, meeting with the church, sharing the gospel, and keeping our eyes set on heaven. Our pilgrimage is one of mountains and valleys, to be sure. Our pilgrimage is also placing one foot in front of the other on a narrow path, looking for the footsteps of the Christ who walked before us, and trusting that God is present and active in the in-between.