One train of thought about being in the middle is it is not a pleasant place to be unless it is the middle of a jelly-filled pastry, and it is your cheat day. I can remember sitting in the backseat of my Aunt's Cutlass as a child and if I sat in the middle, I got carsick, I needed a window and an escape route! Another train of thought is that the middle can feel like a warm, comfortable embrace. When you are attempting something completely different, the middle feels like your most formidable enemy when you long to be on the other side of your vision. If I am being honest, I am not a fan of the middle. It sucks! The door can feel closed on all the things in the past that once served you well.
In addition, the door to a future you desire and pray for seems far away. Faith and resilience stand between you and the future.
Faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. I like the description the bible uses in Hebrews 11, "Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. To me, faith is having complete confidence in the Word (Jesus Christ) and when God recognizes that confidence there is a release of power into your situation that lends to breakthrough and wholeness for you. It is believing what the eyes cannot see yet the mind and heart already know. This involves putting your trust in the character of the person who made the promise, despite the hardships that may arise in the middle of a test.
Resilience is the ability to go through serious trouble and grow from it. I think of the middle as the pressing place, the place where your resilience is truly tested. Life will throw everything and the kitchen sink at you while you are standing in faith. This is because you believe with inspired conviction that the door to your next level and place of conquest is about to open. Except, over time you can feel like your soul is being stretched like a pregnant woman expanding from 2 months to 8 months in five weeks. It can feel like someone with a large chisel is carving out your character without anesthesia so the highest version of you can be birthed. It is painful yet it is necessary.
Many times, we long for the next level, but we don't necessarily have the ability to navigate it. So how do we gain the capacity? Sometimes to grow we have to be challenged in our thinking and cross-examined about our routines, bolstered by updated beliefs and core values, and asked why we want certain outcomes. It is also in the “stretching place” that anxiety, impatience and doubt keep trying to unfasten the hooks of the parachute of faith that is guaranteed to help you land safely in your promised place! So, what do you do? Here are some things that helped me stay grounded in faith:
School is in session - In John 11Jesus' friends urged him to come quickly to see about a man named Lazarus because he was sick. Jesus receives the message from the man's sisters and delays his arrival by two days and by this time the man was dead. Why did he delay? Jesus stated, "I was glad I was not there so that you may believe." God's love language is trust. Is your current test the bridge to a new level of trust in the father? Will you allow yourself to mature in your relationship with God? Do you have the faith to follow Jesus and understand that he still loves you even when he doesn't show up when you want him to? There is something about his character that you would not understand if he showed up in your timing. There is a demonstration of his power and glory you would miss if he allowed you to be in control of everything. The disciples were afraid, Martha was perturbed with Jesus and both sisters questioned his timing. Even when God doesn't do what we want him to do it doesn't change who he is- Lord! We confirm God's presence by what he does; he wants us to know that he is with us, even when he doesn't do what we want. He is Omnipresent and he is enough, he is greater than whatever we are facing. Essentially what Jesus was saying was you are qualifying me only by what I do, and I am telling you "I Am" here with you and "I Am" the fulfillment of what you need. Moreover, Jesus saw them weeping and he was moved with compassion and told some people to roll away the stone from the tomb. What is God trying to get you to partner with him on? Martha was concerned about the smell of a dead
man, and Jesus admonished her to simply believe and she would see glory. Are you so distracted with the mundane ordinary things that you are not able to experience extraordinary divine things? Will you press into your relationship with God even when it seems God is not answering your 911 call? Jesus called out for Lazarus, and he was raised from the dead. His love for them was evident, and he empathized with their situation. Jesus lessons about belief, life, death, resurrection and glory lent to a theme that God loves us, he hears us, he feels with us, he walks with us through trouble, he corrects us, and he comes through for us even if it is not in our timing. He has good thoughts for us and plans to give us a hopeful ending both now and at His coming.
Pray-Stay close to God. Worrying does not help you or your situation. It is wasted energy. Worry leaves you with shortness of breath, knots in your stomach, and no solution. Erma Bombeck says, "Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere. "Instead use that energy to pray or meditate. Philippians 4:6 says, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Luke 18 says, "Keep praying and do not lose heart". Consistency is key to what you believe. This does not mean you are on your knees 24 hours a day; it means having an attitude of prayer no matter where you are. Pray with the assurance because your Heavenly Father loves you and is a righteous judge of excellent character resolving your case. This judge knows you personally and cares for you, a judge who will encourage you, advocate for you, and make the wrongs done to you right! Read Luke 18:1-8
Think big-Trust that God can do more than you can ask or think! Why you say, why not? What does believing small serve? Trying to appear humble by believing small is not honest. Ask for what you want and align yourself with that belief. God can handle it. The more you yield your heart and desires to God the more he can align your heart with destiny. You cannot out-believe God for your life. He wants you to experience His goodness even more than you do. This is a worthy reason to praise the Lord-another reason to shout aloud! As believers
yield themselves to the Lord, He continually births faith in them, so believers can know what He prefers, i.e., the persuasion of His will. See 1 John 5:4 and Ephesians 3:20.
Declare the end from the beginning-Talk like you know things are going to end well! 2 Corinthians 4:13 says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of faith, we also must speak because we believe. When you are in the middle, it is very critical not to let it squeeze you to the point of speaking against what you want. If you find yourself speaking contrary to what you believe consider renewing your mind. Jesus said, “Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech." (Luke 6:45 TLB) Faith is produced in the heart by hearing so practice listening to the things that grow your faith instead of your fears. One encouraging thing to know is that God does not leave his faith-filled children in the middle of a mess. He will always provide the right way out. Psalm 126 tells us that God brought the exiles back to their home. This tells me that every storm runs out of rain, meaning the trouble you are experiencing has an expiration date. There comes a time when God says, "Enough is enough, the time is up on this season and it's time for a new season." In the same passage, the folks struggling through tough times said when God brought them out it was so amazing that it was like a dream. Can you imagine experiencing a hard time and then all of sudden it takes a turn for the better? With the ending so good that it's like a fairytale? The citizens in Psalms 126 laughed and sang with joy to the point that the people around them noticed the wonderful things God did for his people. God recovered His people and granted them complete restoration. What you know by heart becomes the song of your life.
I am sure there is more than this blog that can encourage one to stay in faith and remain encouraged. However, these are a few things that helped me, and I hope they can help you too. A common greeting on social media is "I don't know who this is for" and then the influencer proceeds with their message, but I know exactly who this blog is for-it is for someone in the middle who needs a dose of encouragement. This is for someone who is resting quietly, confidently, on God's promise for their lives. It is my hope that armed with this knowledge a person can truly experience God's goodness and favor. Further, I pray that it will enable them to see God's dream for their lives in high definition at the most appropriate time.
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