Much has been written on “the middle”. That time in between where God has shown you a new vision for your life; the new job, the new relationship, the new baby, the new vocation, the new location, whatever God has shown you and the time before it comes into fruition. That time in the middle, for most is very frustrating.
We can see the promise land on the horizon, but we aren’t quite there, so we lament over what they want and do not yet have. Most Christian writers refer to the Israelites, as they were great examples of how not to do it! They did it all wrong. Their “middle” was supposed to take 11 days and it took 40 years. They were so awful, God finally punished them, and only two were allowed to make it to live in the promise land. Did they lose their eternal prize? Of course not, they just didn’t get to experience all that God had for them on this earth.
Common mistakes in the middle:
1. Bad Attitude! This is a killer, folks. No one wants to be around someone who is always living in the future or in the past. People want people who can work through today’s adversity with them, in a pleasant way. People who can make lemonade out of lemons, are much more palatable than those whining about all that is wrong. I certainly don’t mean that you ignore reality, or “fake it”. Instead, work with what you have, while being kind and cheerful in the process. You might be surprised how even if the circumstances don’t change, you just feel better.
2. Ungrateful heart. It is really easy to get caught up in what you don’t have. The position, the status, the money, the family…. On and on the list goes. Instead, be grateful for what you do have. Literally, count your blessings! You may not be where you want to be, but you aren’t where you used to be. Before your last promotion, you were yearning for what you have now! Enjoy what you have now!!
3. Idolatry, yep, you read that correctly. The middle can be a really, really, long time. Before major promotions, it is typically years. We are distracted with shiny worldly objects, and when we aren’t realizing God’s best for us, quite yet, we are more than willing to settle for lesser gods. How many people in waiting for a baby, get a dog? Or, when waiting for a financial breakthrough, spend money before they get it. Or, when waiting for God, use food, shopping, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, sex, and other additions to numb out during the wait. All of these responses are idolatry when it takes the place of God in your heart. We think, I will just have a glass of wine and a big piece of chocolate cake to make me feel better, when God even in that moment has all the peace and joy you could ever need. With the Israelites, they were physically seeing God in their daily lives, seeing his provision (most of us don’t wake up and find our daily food allotment on the ground), seeing his presence (literal light leading the way), and yet, Moses leaves for a few days, and they were building a golden calf to worship! It seems ridiculous to us, until we put in our modern-day terms, and realize, we do the exact same thing!
In those still moments, when I am abiding in God, waiting on promotion, I have found some really fun stuff!
1. Enjoy the seniority of the level you are at! There are benefits to being where you are, you have mastered this level, worked hard, so enjoy it.
a. Enjoy the benefits of being single, before getting married.
b. Enjoy your spouse, before the kids come along.
c. Enjoy the amount of vacation, perks, or just being the “go to” person at your current job. After you change jobs, you will be the newbie again!
2. New level new devil. As we grow and mature, we go deeper at working through our own sin problems and our own character. God is much more interested in your character, than your status or position in this life. Thus, at the next level, you can expect to go deeper. In those times, I find I am distracted from some of the basics, like I am less likely to exercise or experiment with healthier eating. So, during this time in the middle, when you are waiting for God’s timing, enjoy other facets of your life. Explore the outdoors, read a book you have always wanted to read, go on a dream vacation, take a class, join a gym. Whatever you want to do for yourself, this is the time to do it, before the crazy of the new level starts.
3. Prepare for the next level. It’s true, God is going to handle a lot of the details of the promotion and the promise land. Yet, we still play our part. Visualize what this promotion means, and how might you prepare for it. A new job, do you need to start building a more professional wardrobe? Do you need to take a class? If you are praying for a spouse, what are you bringing to the table? A nest egg or a pile of debt? If you are praying for a baby, how will you prepare. I remember a pastor at my church, had several children, like 6 and he and his wife were about to expect baby number 7. They decided to do a huge clean out of their house, they got their kids, their church family, friends, and family and went through every inch of their house. It certainly was work, but when the new baby arrived, their house was ready and they could enjoy their new baby and take the time to bond as a family, instead of dealing with clutter. The bonus is that when you prepare for the next level, you are showing faith that God will deliver you to the promised land.
4. Worship. For most of us, thinking, analyzing, considering, then thinking some more gets a bit heady. You need to step out of your own head, and just enjoy God. Worship is a great way to let go of the intellect and embrace the spiritual part of our ourselves. I’m like David, I like to dance and worship. Others are more conservative. Whatever your worship style, spend some time just reveling in God’s majesty! Loving God for who He is, instead of what He can do for you, takes some practice.
We all know that God’s timing is not like ours, so you might as well, enjoy all that God offers at this stage of your walk. Use your five senses to explore God and his creativity. The promotion will come soon enough, and you will be distracted with all it has to offer. In the meantime, have some fun. Enjoy!