The In-between. Perseverance.
(This series of devotionals spanned over a three year period of my life. I wrote out of truths that God shared with me throughout every season of this process. I love how he brought this all together and I pray that you will receive encouragement from what he allowed me to experience. Praise His Name!)
Sometimes there is nothing quite as mind and body numbing as finishing. Especially if the finishing was monumental and consummed all of your waking, talking and breathing. You discover, in the after, that you quite literally do not know what to do with yourself. You are positive it should be something - you're just not sure what that something is. I mean, where did all this empty life space come from??
This is where you can find yourself when the in-between is over. I'm here right now and I've just got to say - it's pretty overwhelming.
That pesky in-between seemed like it would never end, but then it did and I was left reeling trying to convince myself that it actually happened. It felt like I had to be dreaming. BUT praise the Lord, I have the pictures to prove it! And the brick.
I've had several people offer their congratulations and a ton of "you did its!", and every time that happens to me I stop and say, "No, God did."
I just hung on for dear life.
You may not know this about me but I have a secret perfection problem. I am so afraid to mess-up. It can be debilitating at times, but praise the Lord, I think he's slowly stripping me of my fear. And it's been through a miriad of mess-ups that, no doubt, will be followed by a myriad of more and I'm discovering that that's okay.
My motto for this in-between season was perseverance not perfection and my sweet friend that's what I want to leave with you. I can't help but think back to the first lesson of the in-between where we learned from our friendly grape grower that it could take up to three years of constant diligence before the evidence of hard work would appear. Three years sounds like an unbearably long time to wait for grapes.
It is. It's worth it.
Let's look at our verses in John 15 again to understand why persevering is so very important. See this with me.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15: 4-5
How many times does he need to tell us to 'remain' for us to grasp the importance? It's almost as if he knows how weak and unsure we can be, like he knows our tendancies to run when we should stay. Our Gardener understands that without the remaining there will be no fruit. He is very clear when he states that without him the best we can produce is nothing.
This period, this time, this season you are finding yourself in, I promise you will be over one day and you will stand in shock wondering how it all happened. So, I want you to give you permission to breathe. Permission to set aside your demands and understand it's not how fast or slow you get there. It's that you remain. That is the real accomplishment. That is the real goal because for some the going gets too hard and the in-between seems foolish and pointless and they wonder why they are putting themselves through this and what is the point after all??
And they quit - and all that remains is nothing.
Let me encourage you, if God has placed you in the in-between, he will see you through it! He never takes you someplace just to leave you. He has something for you on the other side and friend you just hold on because this is not about you doing or handling everything with perfection. This is not about earning yourself bragging rights and showing off your fruit. Aren't you exhausted by all that anyway??This is about you persevering till the end with a God who remains with you all the way.
This is about him, for his glory and his purpose and it will always, always come from remaining.
You persevere in the in-between, you remain in him because God does not place someone where they do not belong.
Incidentally, my personal in-between lasted three years. Let me tell you I did not know the length of the journey when I wrote that first devotional, but God did. Isn't that just like him?
1 Corinthians 1:5-9
For in him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge - Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
All grape growing references from: http://www.grapegrowingguide.com/grape-pruning.html
All scripture from NIV, ESV and NLT translations.