The gift of living in the in between time

Midcoast Inspiration
By The Rev. Wayne Sawyer | Apr 23, 2020

Many of us, I am sure, have become concerned about the long term effects of the corona virus pandemic on our own souls and on the souls of our communities. I wonder how spiritually, emotionally and physically fit we will be when we emerge from this time of social separation and isolation. I suspect that we yearn for the time when we can resume a more normal life. Our time apart from families, friends and co-workers has certainly tried our souls, and has unearthed feelings and emotions that we may not have known lurked within us.

I am reminded of the 40 years that the people of God spent in the desert after their miraculous release from slavery and oppression in Egypt. During their time in the wilderness, they did not do very well at all. They fell into temptation, they dabbled in idolatry and they relished any opportunity that they could find to gripe, complain, grumble and blame others for the tragedy of their situation. They failed miserably at loving God and loving their neighbors.

And yet, during the entire time of that wilderness experience, they had ample opportunity every day to celebrate the awesome wonder and glory of God that lovingly embraced them at every step of the way. Sadly, they completely missed that opportunity. I have had to remind myself about this opportunity to wonder in the glory of God on more than one occasion during this time of our own wilderness. This is springtime! The earth is boldly proclaiming the glory of God. The grass is growing, the flowers are blooming. The evidence of resurrection and new life is everywhere. All of creation is coming alive. The beauty of our earth is completely unaffected by the troubles of this time of separation and isolation. This is a powerful lesson for all of us who struggle. Life and beauty are never lost. They always emerge victorious.

In the book of Leviticus, chapter 19, verses 1 and 2, we read these words, given to the people of God while they were still sojourning in the wilderness: “The Lord spoke to Moses saying, Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” We are created in God’s image and one of the attributes of God is holiness. To be holy, means that we are on the way to realizing the fullness of our humanity. To be truly human is to be holy. To be holy is to live in harmony with one another and with all of creation. When we fail to be holy, we devolve into beasts and there are already enough beasts in this world masquerading as humans as it is. Let us be as human as God created us to be. Let us be holy.

All of chapter 19 is filled with practical instruction on being a good neighbor, but in verse 18, we read these words: You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There it is: be fully human, be holy, and love your neighbor, even in the “in between” times of life.

I am convinced that God sometimes gives us the gift of living in what we might call an “in between” time. It is clear, though, that we don’t always appreciate those “in between” times while we are going through them. “In between” times are almost frightening and almost always involve some sort of loss. But “in between” times, without exception, always have a lesson to learn and a destination to anticipate. For God’s people, the 40 years in the wilderness climaxed when they entered the promised land, a land that God had kept for them as an inheritance and as a living hope.

We will, indeed, emerge from this “in between” time of separation and isolation. Before we emerge, though, we will have experienced some loss and we will have struggled with no small amount of fear. But as the earth emerges from a long winter’s sleep we will emerge with a new appreciation for life and the awesome holiness of life. Our destination? That place where we can say with full hearts that we have learned to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The Rev. Wayne Sawyer is from Thomaston Baptist Church.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 23, 2020 10:56

I love our destination!  "Our destination? That place where we can say with full hearts that we have learned to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves."

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