Yall. I have been slacking on these blog posts big time. I would love to provide a number of excuses for why I haven’t posted in a while, but it basically boils down to my lack of time management skills… yes, it’s summer. And yes, I do have more time than I did during the school year. It doesn’t make much sense, really… except when you consider that about 98% of my posts were done at a time when I was procrastinating writing a paper or studying for a test. Therefore, I’ve concluded that procrastination spurs inspiration which spurs the motivation to write, which makes procrastination a very good thing. Who knew? :)
Today’s post is inspired by a sermon that I heard at a church called The Refuge that I attended with my friend the other week. Coming home for the summer has taken me away from my beloved Summit Church, and my friend Leah told me that The Refuge had become such a big part of her life since she started attending with her fiancé and his family- I loved it! I’m so grateful that she invited me to go with her, and I’m even more grateful for the message I received.
This particular sermon was the first part of a series called “Middle Moments.” We’ve all experienced middle moments- the times in life where there are difficult transitions and everything seems very monotonous and dull. Sometimes I feel like I just have months and months of middle moments, and it’s exhausting. I think it’s important for us to ask ourselves how we’re going to honor God even at times when we’re not excited about what’s going on in our lives- and that’s what the pastor is getting at here. So, here goes.
First off, we have to understand that despite how easy it is to view them this way, middle moments are not a place of defeat. Just because we’ve lost momentum doesn’t mean that we’re stuck in that state forever, or that we’re receiving some type of punishment for our disobedience. If we want to learn anything from these times in our lives, we have to have a right view of their purpose. We have to see them as a place of growth, transition, and promotion.
Pastor Jay Stewart pointed us to John 21, which tells the story of the disciples going fishing and not being able to catch anything until Jesus shows up and tells them to cast their net to the other side of the boat. When they did, their nets were so full of fish that they couldn’t even haul them in.
I’ve heard this story from the time I was in Sunday school up through college, but my general takeaway from it was that Jesus was capable of anything, which I already knew. But there’s a lot more to it than that- at this point in time, the disciples had been following Jesus for about three years. They had left everything behind and followed him and Jesus had played the role of their mentor and teacher during this time. But everything that they knew changed drastically after Jesus was crucified, and once it was all said and done and Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples were basically dazed and confused about what had happened. They weren’t really sure how to handle the situation, and it was in that weak moment that the devil tried to take over. And just like he did with the disciples, the enemy will try to take over in our middle moments too.
First, he wants to challenge our security. I love the way Pastor Jay worded this: he wants to convince us that where we came from is better than where we’re going. It’s so true! We want to stick with what we know because we have this incredible fear of the unknown- even those of us who are so devoted to following God find ourselves scared to leave what’s comfortable for something that may be better for us. Whenever one of my friends goes through a break-up, I see this so clearly. As a third party, I can say with confidence that my friend is going to be better off because the person she was with chose to leave her. And if I can see it from my tiny little outside perspective, we can’t even fathom what God can see from His throne. Seriously- why do we ever doubt His plans? They’re perfect. They’re in good timing. They’re sovereign. Why do we let the enemy challenge our security in these moments of weakness?
Second, he wants to corrupt our influence. I think we often underestimate what the enemy knows. Yall, he knows that we love God. And there’s nothing that he would love more than to prevent the spread of the Gospel and to diminish our role as followers of Christ. When we’re so caught up in these middle moments that we stop having faith and start to let fear, pride, and all of our selfish desires trump what will further God’s kingdom, we are allowing our influence to be corrupted. And trust me, that’s never a good thing. Think of all of the people who could be questioning Christianity- if they look to us as an example, we have to be ready to show God’s love whether we’re in a middle moment or not.
Lastly, he wants to confuse our reality. In John 21:4, it says that when Jesus appeared on the shore, the disciples didn’t even realize it was him. They had spent three years with this man, and even after Jesus called out to them, they still didn’t recognize him. It is all too often that we lose sight of God too when our middle moments take over. Because when the devil confuses our reality, we are no longer sober-minded about who God is or what He has promised us. We become focused on ourselves- that’s our new order of reality. It’s scary, and it never ends well.
Part of me felt like this message was crafted just for me. The evidence is all over this blog that just about the entirety of my sophomore year was composed of middle moments. I constantly felt like I was working to get out of a rut and it seemed as though nothing worked. I wanted to go home and just stay there, because that was what I knew- that’s what seemed safe, and it meant that I didn’t have to deal with the schoolwork or any of my other responsibilities.
I can honestly say that it’s these middle moments that have the power to bring us closer to God. I often find that when “big things” start to happen in my life, I take on this approach that essentially says, “Okay God, I can handle the little moments if you just help me with the bigger things going on in my life.” Sometimes we become so consumed with handing the defining moments over to God that we forget that He wants all of it- even the middle moments. Because I truly believe that it’s when we allow God to handle even the smallest parts of our lives that we find strength in Him and only Him- not our circumstances, not our own merit, just Him.
What an amazing God we serve. Have a good week!