Enjoying the Middle

 

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I was recently reading a book, becoming more and more enthralled with the main character’s perilous journey, when the focus shifted to the rugged trail he had to take. There were pages and pages describing this trail.

Can I be honest? I skimmed those descriptions. My eyes went searching for his next thought or the next section of dialogue. Something other than that same rocky path.  I just wanted to get off of that trail and see what was going to happen next.

When I started to get frustrated, a gentle whisper informed me that I do that sort of thing all the time in my own life, and I need to slow down and enjoy the middle.

It’s true. I find myself wanting to hurry things along and get to the “good stuff.” Let’s get on with it, I might think. I’m ready for the next big thing, Lord.

But God doesn’t always want that. He doesn’t want us to miss the middle of our journey because not only are there a multitude of lessons to be learned in the middle, but God Himself is the One doing the teaching IF we’re willing to slow down and stop fidgeting out of frustration.

He wants to teach us lessons that will strengthen our faith for today, tomorrow, and way, way down that eh, rocky path, we might find ourselves on. 🙂

And a lesson we certainly don’t want to miss: God is in the details of our lives.

God is in the details all around us in our everyday lives and we may overlook those details if we rush right by thinking this is just a bunch of slow-me-down descriptions. He wants to show us things that, to someone else might not mean much, but to you and me, they could offer jaw-dropping, laugh out loud (literally!) moments that open our eyes to more of who He is and how He works in our lives.

But if you and I hurry through, skimming over them and rushing to get to the “good stuff” we’re going to miss that closeness with God, that intimate moment He wanted to share with us.

Need an example? There are thousands, billions perhaps.

Have you ever needed a quarter for the shopping cart or parking meter and found one in your car? Have you ever felt discouraged and a text came to you right then?

Did you ever notice how the rain stopped just when you stepped outside to get the mail or a song playing the perfect lyrics for your aching heart was on the radio the very moment you turned it on? What about receiving a card in the mail that gave you the confirmation you’d asked God for that same morning?

What about finding the last two pounds of the “right” kind of sausage at the grocery store to make your family’s favorite potato soup or seeing your Mom’s favorite spaghetti sauce was not only available but on sale right before you left to visit her?

You see, God is in the details, enriching our lives and blessing us all the way through the middle while we travel on the paths to get to where He wants us to be. And we don’t want to miss a single moment, a single detail of walking with Him.

Spending that kind of time with Him really is the good stuff.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10 NLT.)

“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right- you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.” (Psalm 119:1-3 MSG.)

 

(Photo from pexels.com.)

While You’re Waiting

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I used to go fishing with my brother and our Grandpa when I was a little girl with scabby knees and a wad of bubbled gum stuffed in my cheek. Grandpa wore his floppy fishing hat, shorts, and socks reaching just under his knees.  I learned patience by watching him fish.

He would sit for hours, pursing his lips as if to whistle a song but not really making a sound, afraid to scare off the fish. He’d shake his head at us when we got impatient, running through the grass around the pond and casting lines; practically chasing the fish we saw swimming in the shallow water. He just sat on the dock with a smile and waited.

I try to smile when I’m waiting, but it’s especially hard when negative thoughts bombard me from every angle.

You’re a failure.

It’s not going to happen.

You will never make a difference.

Just give up.

You’re pathetic.

You’ll never get ahead.

It’s always going to be this bad.

You can’t even do that right.

While I was praying this morning and playing some worship music with my eyes closed, I imagined my Grandpa sitting on the dock fishing. He was patient, watching the bobber riding on those tiny ripples and waiting for the fish to bite while thousands of mosquitoes swarmed around him.  But he didn’t pay any attention to them because they couldn’t touch him.  It was like he had a bubble of protection around him.

That bubble, I realized this morning, is praise.

Satan is going to come at us like a thousand annoying mosquitoes while we wait. He’s going to incessantly buzz in our ears and hide lies in that noise.  He’s going to distract us and torment us and do his very best to get us to not only call it quits on this particular day but toss our pole in the water and walk away for good.

My dear friends, don’t give up. Waiting is definitely hard work.  God knows, and He understands.

Besides the work of waiting, you may not even get what you’ve been waiting for. There were plenty of times we went fishing and never caught a single fish, but Grandpa still smiled on the walk back home.  He had learned to enjoy the wait and the time he spent with his grandkids.

While you and I are waiting, we can learn to enjoy the wait and the time with God. Maybe He’s giving us this “down time” to get ready to reel in that whopper of a fish.  Or maybe He just wants us to learn to praise Him when things aren’t going the way we think they should.

Regardless, you can thank Him while you’re waiting and staring at the bobber when the fish don’t bite but instead when you catch a glimpse of Heaven mirrored in the water like a thousand diamonds, realizing the reflection is not only coming from the sun but from within you.

You see, God never leaves you to wait alone. The Holy Spirit is waiting with you. And He will teach you a new song to sing while you’re waiting, one that won’t scare off what you’re waiting for but will protect you from those irritating mosquitoes.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:1,3a NIV.)