Learning to Sail Smoothly Through the In-Between

To Sail

There is this place called the in-between, where many of us live. We are in-between where we were and where we want to be. We want a new adventure now and whatever difficult thing we are dealing with to end … over and done with. Often, the in-between is a difficult place of disappointments, laced with real sadness. It is a troubling time, a fretful time, a restless, tiring journey of sailing in rough waters. Yes, the in-between can be rough and also lonely. This is your story, your journey. This is your in-between. You own it. Perhaps you have already come to realize that your life in the in-between is most profound when there is silence all around you or during a time of aloneness.

There’s waiting in the in-between. There’s waiting for something to change, or to have our dreams fulfilled or … simply fill in the blank: “I am waiting for ________.”  Waiting is definitely a type of rough waters, a personal trial, with suffering, possibly as its companion.

What I’m learning about being in the in-between is that sailing through the rough waters of waiting is the best place for me now. And as I learn to hoist the sail and press on throughout this waiting period, I will find that the inconvenient moments, the monotony of routine or the struggle to overcome are, in fact, my greatest opportunity for growth.

The In Between

The in-between is a vast space to explore and I’ve explored it longer than I care to! However, during this waiting period in the in-between, I have discovered a lot about myself. Sometimes I say, “My God! When will this waiting be over?” And sometimes I say, “My God! Thank you for the in-between!” I sound quite fickle and I admit that I’m discontent in the waiting. I’m very goal oriented and live in perpetual pursuit of something. I find myself evaluating my progress toward that thing that will give me satisfaction, to fulfill my life.

To continue with the metaphor of smooth sailing, it’s exhausting to adjust the sails, to tack and jib, to fight the wind on my own. I long for the other side of this.

Recently, I read Mark 6:45-52. It’s the story of Jesus disciples in a boat, making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. I thought I knew this story well, but I had missed significant details.  Such as one word in verse 45:

Immediately he [Jesus] made his disciples get in the boat and go before him to the other side …

They did what Jesus made them do. Get in the boat. Those guys didn’t do anything to cause the storm and they certainly didn’t expect a storm or ask for the trial they were facing. They happened to find themselves in the right place at the right time and they were utterly astounded by God’s grace. (verse 51)

I discovered another significant point in verse 48 of that text:

And about the fourth watch of the night he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them …

Jesus seems very relaxed while being in their storm. He knew they had rowed and struggled for about eight hours. It’s tempting to judge the faithfulness of God based on His ability to remove difficulty from our lives, when in fact, difficulty is almost always a sign of His faithfulness.  Notice in verse 48 that Jesus meant to walk pass by them, but then they cried out in fear and immediately he spoke to them. God’s love is borderless wide and his compassion is infinitely deep. God’s grace rescues us.

The In Between

I’m asking two important questions: “What in the world is God doing?” and “How in the world should I respond to it?”

I’m learning that He has brought me to the uncomfortable place of the in-between to produce in me what I could not achieve on my own. God’s divine power plus his divine compassion equals everything I need. [1]

And how in the world should I respond to waiting in the in-between?  Utterly astounded by God’s grace while “giving myself permission to enjoy fully the things I have, the person I am, and the life I am currently living while continuing to harbor the dreams that keep me growing and stretching into the future.” [2]

It is only when I’m hooking my life to the glory and grace of God and getting my identity from him that I can truly live with singleness of focus for the long run. This is because it is only God who has the power to satisfy my heart. I was made for him. I was made to have my life shaped by an acknowledgment of his presence, a rest in his love, and an active allegiance to his purpose. When I live this way, my soul is satisfied and my heart is at rest.  — Paul Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Psalm 27:4 Smooth Sail in the In Between

Smooth Sail

I’ve loved reading the book: A SHELTER in the TIME of STORM: Meditations on God and Trouble, by Paul David Tripp. The book is based on Psalm 27, a psalm that teaches you about faith, safety and the presence of the Lord. Psalm 27 tells us that even in the middle of difficulties that we do not understand, nor seem able to escape, we have reason to take heart and to have hope.

[1] Paul Tripp, Uncomfortable Grace |  [2]  The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer. Original quote:  “Give yourself permission to enjoy fully the things you have, the person you are, and the life you are currently living while continuing to harbor the dreams that keep you growing and stretching into the future.”

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