HOPE IN THE MIDDLE

hope in the middle

I was asked to share a little of my story with some women at my church the other day.

Darn, I thought. I wish she would have asked me six months from now instead. Then some of my stuff would be resolved. I’d have a real story to tell…then.

But you see, I’m still in the Middle. So many loose ends to tie up.

I really think the speech therapy and special tutoring my youngest daughter is receiving will have kicked in by then. And my adult daughter with disabilities will probably have a job by then – that should be a good story…a happy ending. And I think my other child’s future should be clearer, and we’ll have the results from the tryout for my third….

If only she’d asked me in six months.

But instead I’m here with a half story. Still waiting.

And I hear a door slam somewhere in my house, and I’ve got a text from my daughter to please pray, and I don’t think my son is working on his homework yet, and my husband is still processing the same work problem.

And I’m still in the Middle.

But I remember a story someone told me 30 years ago in her small London kitchen as we were washing up the dishes after dinner. It challenges me to rethink the Middle.

She and her husband had raised their children as Christians, in church. When they had grown up, her son had become a professing Christian, but her daughter was a decided atheist. It broke their hearts.

They kept praying for her and trusting God. That’s all anyone can do…. Trusting. In the Middle.

Their daughter was a nurse and was serving on a Red Cross base in a war zone when they got the dreaded news. The base had been bombed and their daughter was confirmed dead.

It seemed like her story had ended before it was supposed to. And their hearts were broken double now.

But this couple had a surprisinug response. I guess a well-practiced faith comes in handy in times like these. They decided to immediately get on their knees and thank God for his faithfulness.

What?

“We had to do this, you know,” she quietly explains to me, “or we thought we might become bitter.”

It’s funny … our hearts determine our actions. But the reverse is also true. Our actions determine our hearts.

“And four days later,” she continues, “We got a letter. From our daughter.”

“The letter was postmarked the day the base had been bombed,” the woman explains when she sees my confusion.

But in the letter the daughter wrote about what she had been experiencing lately.

“You know I have been an atheist…” she began writing.

But apparently in the last few months she had been inexplicably experiencing the presence of God. She could not explain it. She was baffled. But it was so strong, so undeniable, she had met with the chaplain and had returned to church.

She thought they’d want to know.

I am silent, standing there with a damp dishtowel in hand taking in this unexpected and almost sacred story.

I guess trusting God in the Middle before all the loose ends were tied up was not a bad idea after all.

And now that I think about it, I guess Telling our stories in the Middle is about right too .

Doors may slam, and jobs may still hang in the balance, and futures may still seem bleak.

But Now – in the Middle -is the time to Hope. Now is the time to say, He is enough. Now is the time to get on our knees and breathe, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him.”

Because apparently even the grave is only the Middle of the story with God. And He always writes the last page.

 

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