Words of Worth

“The Middle”

June 2, 2013

The MidHave you ever seen the sitcom, The Middle?  It’s a story about a middle class family, in the middle of the country, who face problems with which most families can identify. Sometimes it seems like the family is trying to get to the top, or struggling not to hit bottom, and even though lovingly supportive of each other, they land somewhere in The Middle.

We’ve been reading The Land Between this month and the land between is very much a middle of sorts for the Israelites. After generations of slavery in Egypt, the sons and daughters of Abraham make their way to Canaan, the Promised Land. Out of the land of slavery into the land of Promise may sound like a short trip at first because nothing is mentioned about the time the people will spend in the desert, the middle, the land between. While in the middle, the Israelites struggled with trusting God, and in time, the provision of manna for breakfast, lunch and dinner became old and the Israelites fell prey to complaining and despising God’s provision and ultimately His goodness.

Numbers 11:4-6Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

God said in Numbers 11:20, “…you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

Where do I do this? When is my heart drawn to bitter complaint? In my complaints when I find myself in the middle is there any possibility that I might be guilty of implying, “God I was better off without you!”? Grumbling is equal to rejecting God and murmuring will cause us to get stuck in the middle and to reject the opportunity to grow in our faith and trust in God.

From the outset of the Israelite’s journey, grumbling had been a hallmark of their relationship with God. With each difficulty God was giving them an opportunity to trust Him, but with each complaint, they responded, “No we will not!”

Many say the most difficult part of a transition is not the beginning of the change, not the end result of the change, but the middle! They feel stuck in the middle of a transition they didn’t quite anticipate, or felt was thrust upon them, or whose ramifications they just couldn’t calculate at the outset of the change. Marriage, childbirth, graduating college, losing a job, moving back home: whether positive or negative, transitions can be messy but they can also give birth to previously unforeseen opportunities for growth.

However, the middle is the training ground for the future because once the Israelites entered the Promised Land they were going to have to know how to resist looking to other gods to fulfill their needs for survival. God was saying to them over and over again, “I am all-sufficient. Turn to me. I am all you need.”

He’s saying the same to us today! Are we allowing ourselves to be disciplined and trained by hardships we experience in The Land Between or in The Middle, so that we can learn to live in greater dependence on God?

If we can choose to trust God, then we will develop perseverance, and faith will grow. James 1:3 reminds us “…the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

We will grow and not get stuck in The Middle. (sv)

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