The Land in the Middle

Camel gives upOn the way to where God is taking you, in the journey of life, we sometimes find ourselves in the land in the middle: We aren’t where we were hoping to be.

We claim God is the one we seek and serve, yet there are many competing voices trying to claim our allegiance. We are often confused.

The Israelites had a tough life as slaves in Egypt. God rescued them. The rescue operation did not immediately provide the relief they expected.[1]

Unmet expectations can be our biggest discouragement.

One month after their rescue, the response of the Israelites spoke to me profoundly.

By this time they seemed to have completely forgotten their struggle and suffering in Egypt. They forgot the brutal treatment they had received at the hands of their task masters – to make bricks and collect their own straw. They forgot about how the Egyptians had loaded them down with treasure just hours prior to their escape. They forgot how God had delivered them through the Red Sea. They forgot how very recently God had miraculously provided water. They were quick to forget so many things.

One month after their rescue, they complained about the leadership of their expedition.

They romanticized their past experience to see only good, and reduced their current experience to see only bad:

“If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”[2]

The land in the middle is a challenging place to be.

Our primary focus is … ourselves. Our own comfort. Our appetites. Our safety. Our security. We like to know where we will sleep every night. We prefer indoors with a bed and pillows specifically chosen for our comfort. If someone happens to put the air conditioning too high or too low we might get annoyed. We like our meals with great regularity.

If we don’t have these primary needs met we feel – forsaken, abandoned. Just like the Israelites. Only one month after experiencing their dramatic escape from the land of Egypt and watching the entire Egyptian army perish in the Red Sea that God had opened for them to pass through unharmed, they felt abandoned by God.

How short is our memory.

God has future purposes. They are for His glory – not ours. And, not for our comfort. Of course, He may bless us with comfort. But when everything is not quite perfect in our current reality, how will we respond?

Can we trust that God has a good purpose? Can we release our personal daily expectations to the greater picture of what God is doing?

It is easy to trust when we know the end of the story. When we look at the plight of the Israelites it is obvious to us that God had a plan, had the power and had an end goal. They were in the middle and couldn’t see the end.

We are all in the middle of something. It is extremely easy to default to our human comfort. It is easy to feel abandoned and forsaken by God when things are not going the way we had hoped. The Scripture is full of hope for future promises for God’s people. We need to refresh our minds every day – especially when we are getting bogged down in our current ‘not so perfect’ reality.

God is at work. He is always at work. He has higher and greater intentions than we can imagine. He is seeking those with steady hearts. He wants to refine us through our times in the middle. When we fully embrace the journey He is taking us on, with hopeful and joyful anticipation for the work only He can do, it can make the time in the middle purposeful.

Or we can look back with longing on the ‘good ol days’ and complain about our leadership. It comes very naturally.

DSC_0062 Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus, seeker of health and truth. Facing a world quite different from the one in which I grew up, I seek to research and understand the very real dangers threatening the health and freedom of today’s parents, providing information to navigate towards joyful family living while I navigate my own “land in the middle.”

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[1] Exodus, the second book in the Bible, gives a detailed account of how God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt.

[2] Exodus 16:3

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