The In-Betweens

My house is staring at me.

A betrayed kind of look that says, “Seriously. What have you done?”

At least that’s how it feels after our family’s week-long bout with a horrible flu, followed immediately by an unexpected mid-March snow day. Muddy foot and paw tracks in the foyer and kitchen, pillows and blankets and tissues piled like modern art sculptures in across the living room, and unspeakably grimy bathrooms… all pleading with me to do something about it. Right. Now.

The problem is, I can’t.

I’m in that infuriating in-between stage of recovery where I can think straight enough to know what needs to be done, but my body refuses to cooperate.

It’s hard for a doer like me when reality decides it’s time to just be.

And, no it’s not flattering when I call myself a doer.

A doer. A rusher. A forcer. A distracter. A controller.

I’ve never liked the in-betweens – the space between certainties, the pause between breaths, the waiting times.

But I think God does.

I have a friend who often says that the work of the Holy Spirit is low and slow.

Low and slow like a calm breath.

Like the stroke of a paintbrush.

It’s in the quiet in-betweens that He gently colors our days. He’s there painting rest between the wounding and the healing, broad pools of blessing between the mourning and the dancing, shades of purpose between the loss and the restoration.

We’ve been in an in-between season for the past several months, after the unexpected end of one ministry and before the beginning of the new direction God has been nudging us towards. The laying down of old dreams and the coming up with empty hands has been a place of vulnerable surrender like nothing we’ve known before.

There’s a holiness in the open-handed pause.

And then a few days ago, when I was the sickest I’ve been in a long time, I propped myself up with pillows long enough for a video conference call with our organization’s headquarters and accepted a new ministry position. And, just like that, an answer to months of prayer. It wasn’t until afterwards that it hit me that I’d done the interview in my pajamas.

Empty, waiting hands received, and I wasn’t even properly dressed.

Being in the in-between feels like drifting in the ocean. We can’t do anything here, floating at the mercy of the waves.

Floating on the waves of mercy.

Because that’s what waiting is: an ocean of mercy. We live suspended in His vast goodness, being drawn along by tides we wouldn’t have chosen to places we didn’t know we needed to go.

We’re not done waiting. There’s still paperwork that needs to be finished, for both my new position and my husband’s, before we can announce anything. And then we have what will probably be several months of finding more financial partners before we can begin serving in our new assignment. Our family is doing worlds better, but we’re still healing after our difficult experience overseas, and we probably will be for a while. One of our children is still unpacking hard and heavy things that make a mama’s heart ache. We’re still here, suspended between the questions and the final answers.

I can’t DO anything. I can’t rush the paperwork or the process or the partnerships. I can’t control the destination of our journey or the journeys of our kids.

But I can listen to the rhythm of grace-waves echoing the heartbeat of the God who loves me and mine. I can be rocked into rest by the motion of the swell and the pause, the swell and the pause, the swell and the pause, as He pulls us through the deep along pathways only He can see.

And here in the in-between, I find myself learning to breathe in time with His Spirit, low and slow.

 “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” ~2 Chronicles 20:12b (NIV)

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