As colours go, I rather like black and white. Grey, not so much. For me, black and white represent clarity and class. Grey, I feel is a bit nondescript. Insipid almost. This is just my personal preference so please don’t take any offence if your favourite colour is grey. I mean no offence. My daughter for starters loves grey and will be the first to task about the comments I have just made.
A bit like my taste in colours defers to absolutes, I feel very much the same when it comes to doing life. I would rather be ‘here’ or ‘there’ – in concrete, well-defined places in terms of where I find myself and where I am headed. And I am not just talking in geographic terms. I don’t like the in-between places. Like for example knowing that in my future lies the privilege of seeing many people healed supernaturally yet currently only seeing a few here and there. Or currently living in a home that I know is merely temporary, while looking forward to a place we can call home.
Perhaps it stems from the fact that I am naturally impatient. When I travel, I can hardly wait to be at my destination. I don’t always take the time to enjoy the journey like I could. Instead, as soon as the journey begins I am already planning what I shall be doing when I get to my destination. Perhaps you feel like I do. You admit to not doing so great at walking through those in-between places that you find yourself in as you walk through life.
Joseph had a dream (Genesis 17). A dream that pointed towards a position of honour and pre-eminence that would have not just his brothers, but also his parents bowing before him. Incredible to say the least. Fast-forward a few years and the dreamer who used to own a beautiful coat finds himself enslaved in Egypt. Just when it seems as though things could not get any worse, he is thrown into prison. His crime – refusing the advances of his boss’ wife. Jailed for doing the right thing. That must suck.
And so Joseph finds himself in a place that most of us dread. The ‘in-between’ place. He is neither a son lavished with the love of his father nor the prince he has seen in his dreams. The ‘in-between’ is a place that separates your current reality from the dream that God has put in your heart. You know the dream is possible because God has made you a promise. And keep His promise He will. Still you find yourself in this chasm of nothingness for a period.
Often a place of challenge and loneliness, the ‘in-between’ can either build you or break you. God’s intention is always to build you up; satan’s is to break you. Ultimately, you decide which way it’s going to go. Up or down. Your attitude, and mine; your staying power and mine will determine if we sink or swim.
It is mostly difficult to predict how long this sojourn in the land of ‘in-between’ could last. I wish I could say that you will find yourself in your ‘there’ in a few days, or months or even weeks. Truth is, the length of time is really not that important. What is more helpful to focus on is not the ‘how long’ question but the ‘what’s the purpose one’.
Sometimes it can feel like you are well and truly entrenched in the ‘in-between’. You have learned the culture and the language of in-betweeners. It may seem like you will be spending the rest of your life in this place of deferred hope. The Hall of fame in Hebrews 11 has a lot of in-betweeners that never had the satisfaction of seeing their own ‘there’ or their promised land materialise. They saw it in their future, using eyes of faith, but it never became their reality.
It would be tempting to think that they lost out. I don’t think for one minute hold that opinion. Just like the saying, ‘it is better to have love and lost than not to have loved’, it is better to have believed and die still believing, than die in despair. Because believing God does something for you that despair can never do, even if you end up never seeing in this lifetime what you have believed for. Believing opens up your heart; softens it and makes it ready for the Master’s use. Despair does the opposite.
Instead of wishing away our time in the in-between place, you and I can focus on making it a place where we learn and grow. Growing has the propensity to be painful and inconvenient. But the result is well, growth. An increased capacity to love and to receive and to give. That ought to be worth going through pain for.
Joseph had every right to be bitter. Every reason to give up on life. Despair. Bury his gifts deep because he was in a dark place where no one would notice or appreciate those gifts. Any of the above would have been a viable option for a young man imprisoned for a crime he never committed. He chose instead to trust God and keep on being the best he could be. Regardless of the circumstances.
Joseph waited. Sooner or later, God makes a way for those who wait for Him. It is inevitable that victory will come for those who wait. Satan does not have the same staying power that God has. With God’s help, you can out wait satan. Or better still, outwit him. Either way, you can turn your ‘in-between’ into a place of such praise and blessing that the enemy regrets ever attempting to keep you paralysed there.
As you wait, pray.
As you wait, praise.
As you wait, don’t give up on the dream.
As you wait, stay busy serving in the Kingdom.
Yes, grey my never be my favourite colour, but I am beginning to appreciate it’s subtleness. If it prepares me for my ‘there’ in such a way that I become much more appreciative of the vibrant colours that reside in that place of promises fulfilled, then surely that’s double blessing.
To all my fellow in-betweeners,