Imagine, you are standing right on the edge of everything you have ever dreamed and hoped for. It is just within your grasp. You can see it. You can smell it. You can almost touch it. But you have been stopped just short of acquisition. You’ve been here before. Perhaps you’ve been here more times than you care to admit. It’s the land of the almost, but not just yet. You are neither here, nor there. You are in transition. You are…in between. Sometimes, it seems as if you live here, smack-dab in the middle of the valley of “in-between.” You’ve almost grown used to it. Frankly, you may have grown stale to it. And there lies the problem. You’ve lost the beauty, the mystery, and the wonder of this valley of life, called “in-between.”
In the Bible, there is the story of the Israelites and their exodus from slavery and bondage in Egypt, all the way to the land that God had promised to give them in Canaan. It is an incredible story of God’s faithfulness, love, and willful persistence for His people. There are many facets to this story from which we may learn. But one in particular is when they came to their own valley of “in-between.” The Scriptures record it this way in Deuteronomy 1:
“Then, just as the Lord our God commanded us, we left Mount Sinai and traveled through the great and terrifying wilderness, as you yourselves remember, and headed toward the hill country of the Amorites. When we arrived at Kadesh-barnea, I said to you, ‘You have now reached the hill country of the Amorites that the Lord our God is giving us….Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors has promised you. Don’t be afraid or discouraged!’”
At this point, just before entering, the Israelites sent out a team of spies to scout out the land. The scouting mission was not to determine whether to enter the land, but to determine the best place in which to enter. It was also to remind the people that the land was a good land, just as God had promised. It was to remind them to continue forward because God is faithful.
So the team of scouts went out, and there the rest of the Israelites waited for 40 days and nights. The perseverance of the “terrifying wilderness” was just behind them. They still had the dust from the journey on their sandals, on their backs, and stretched across their faces. They were weary and worn from the journey. Just before them, within reach, was the land promised by God…a land “flowing with milk and honey.” But they were stopped just short of acquisition for a moment. They were neither here nor there. They were in transition. They were in-between.
The scouting team of 12 returns. The land is everything God promised! But ten of them decide that’s not enough. The land is filled with obstacles and hurdles. It’s going to require work and sacrifice. Ten of them spread a negative report that discourages the people from moving forward. Two of them, having seen the very same things, choose an entirely different perspective, “We can do it! The Lord our God is going ahead of us!”
As human nature is prone to do, the people chose to focus on the negative report. They chose to focus on what was wrong, rather than what was right. It sent them into a demented frenzy. They refused God’s faithfulness, and they refused to enter the land out of fear and hesitation. As a result, that generation of them (with the exception of the two who believed) never left that valley of “in-between” and died there. A sad ending to something that began with such promise.
God had kept His people in the plagues of Egypt. He had released them from slavery. He had brought water from a rock for them. He dropped bread from Heaven for them to eat each day. He led them in a cloud by day and fire by night. He never stopped leading them. Just when it looked as if it was all over, and they were standing at the shore of the Red Sea, with the world’s most powerful army, their enemies, bearing down on them to butcher them, God did the impossible! He parted the waters and marched them through on dry ground, only to bring the waters back over their enemies to pummel them in defeat. What else did the Lord need to do!?
But in their fear, they focused more on what was wrong, than what had been right all this time. In focusing on the negative, they completely lost sight of God’s faithfulness. Sometimes, a loss of memory of God’s goodness will be the greatest sin we commit. Had they only remembered His faithfulness, how different their lives could have been?
Are you in a valley of “in-between” right now? Are you left always feeling like you are neither here nor there? Do you always feel like you’re coming up just short of acquisition? Do you constantly feel like you’re stuck in transition? If you are there, I assure you it’s not random or without purpose. Perhaps you need to jog your memory. Perhaps it would be good to take your own scouting report through the land of God’s faithfulness…your own life.
Sometimes the point of the “in-between” is to remember the “what has been” and the “what is currently.” Sometimes in life, we get so anxious to get to the next thing, that we fail to remember the goodness of what has been, or even what is happening all around us in the “in-between.” Maybe that’s why God reminds us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Some of the best and most epic moments of my life have been in the “in-between” moments.
It could just be that the reason we never move forward to the next thing is because we refuse to recognize God’s faithfulness in the “what has been” and the “here and now.” Slow down and be fully aware of your surroundings, even the difficult ones. Be where you are, thank God for His faithfulness, and trust Him for His timing on what is next.
Remember that He is still leading and guiding our steps each day. Remember that He still gives us our daily bread, just what we need, at the right time. He’s never late, always on time, even in our impatience. And remember that even when we stand at the water’s edge of impossibility, He is able to part the seas of the “this can’t be done,” and bring us through on dry ground, and vanquish our enemies behind us. He is still faithful and He is always able!
Finally, remember that if you are a follower of Jesus, this world in which we live is “in-between.” We are in transition. This is not our home. There is an ultimate Promised Land to come for the believer. As 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “These light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.” The “in-between” moments are littered with God’s faithfulness. Keep your eyes on them, and the glory will come soon enough.