What period of life are you looking forward to right now? When you graduate? When you get married? When you have the right job or house, or can start a family? When you’ve gotten your kids through school or paid off that house? When you can retire?
Sometimes it feels like we are always looking ahead to when we will really be able to “start living”. If we can just make it to a certain point, then that is when life is really happening and we can get everything together and feel like we are making it somewhere.
We can get tricked into thinking we aren’t making any progress in life and that the really important stuff is ahead of us. If we can just get there we will “make it”, whatever that means to us.
When we are looking to the future with this mindset we can feel like we are stuck in the present, not really going anywhere or doing anything that is meaningful or important. We feel like we are “in-between”.
But we need to be careful not to miss those “in-between” times or just muddle through them. It is during those times that God is preparing us for the next “big event” in life. Those “in-between” times in life also seem to make up much of the time in our lives. If our mindset is to just get through them so we can be on to the next thing that matters, we miss or only partially make use of some of the most important time in our lives.
A few examples from scripture about the “in-between” times in life:
This first example comes from a talk that Phil Vischer gave at Moody for their Founder’s Week Conference in 2009. It wasn’t the main scripture passage used in his message, but I have found it particularly helpful personally.
Noah was used by God for a pretty big event, namely building the ark and saving the world. However, we often miss or minimize the importance of Noah’s life up to that point.
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” – Genesis 6:9b
The world was filled with so much wickedness that God decided to flood the entire earth. In the midst of that wickedness, Noah “walked faithfully with God.” He didn’t do something big and memorable in his life and then get used by God to build the ark, he made the daily decision to follow the Lord. The “in-between” time in Noah’s life leading up to the flood was the reason he was used to build the ark and save the world.
David was given the promise of kingship when he was still just a shepherd in his father’s house (1 Samuel 16). David then had to wait until he was thirty before that promise was fulfilled. Many of those years were filled with hardship and challenges. Even when he finally became king of Judah (2 Samuel 2), it was another six-and-a-half years before he became king over all of Israel (2 Samuel 5).
During this extremely difficult “in-between” time, David wrote at least Psalms 34, 52, 54, 56, 57, and 59 if not many others. He also gives us great examples of trust in the Lord, perseverance, and praising God no matter what the situation might look like. All of these characteristics and more are what helped him to be the king that he was when God’s time came.
The last example of this “in-between” time being displayed in scripture that I will use is Jesus Himself.
From Luke 3:23 we know that Jesus “was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.” Before this, the last indicator of age and time we have is from the story of Jesus at the temple as a twelve-year-old boy.
We don’t know much about the years of Jesus’s life between age twelve and thirty.
- We know that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” – Luke 2:52
- We know that He was tempted and yet without sin for His entire life, which would include the years we don’t know much about (Hebrews 4:15).
- And we know He worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
That’s pretty much all we know about more than half of Jesus’s earthly life. He grew in favor with God and man, lived through temptation but was without sin, and worked as a carpenter.
Maybe that is part of the point. The incarnate Word lived a perfect and faithful life honoring His Father amidst normal everyday circumstances for eighteen years before He began His public ministry.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:14-15
The story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness illustrates this (Matt. 4:1-11), but so does His entire life. He grew up with siblings, had two imperfect parents, went through puberty, took on a job and lived perfectly faithful everyday. Jesus understands the daily grind of living life day after day. It’s not like He was living an easy life either.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” – Isaiah 53:2b
Those eighteen years were a part of God’s salvation plan. He was fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law that no one else could in order to fulfill the law.
Your “in-between” times are part of God’s plan for your life as well. They are not wasted or without meaning or purpose. It is faithfully walking with God each day that brings Him glory and creates in us His character and brings forth the Fruit of the Spirit. God is preparing you and equipping for those possible future events during these “in-between” times.