Somewhere in the In-Between
We are not the first people to enter the mission field. Many greats have gone before us, and I loved reading about them as a kid. Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Don and Carol Richardson (If you haven't read Peace Child, it's a must read!), Elisabeth and Jim Elliot--just to name a few that I read about and studied. Their stories are both heart-breaking and inspirational. Every one of their stories began with a call. Every one of them had to say, "yes" and leave everything they knew and loved behind. This is the process for every person who is called to go. There are sermons, books, talks, and lectures about the cost of going, the price that missionaries pay to go into the mission field. It's not wrong, there is a cost. We have laid down businesses, goals, plans, friends, home, family, church, and nearly all of our possessions to say yes. I read all the stories of the missionaries I listed above and remember the cost they all paid in the same areas. But reading those stores didn't prepare me for the place we are in now.
This place is somewhere in the in-between.
Over the past few weeks I have been sorting, packing, cleaning, selling, re-sorting, paring down, and cleaning some more. Our clothes and a limited number of our possessions are in black storage bins from Costco that will go on the plane with us. We have minimal furniture in the house. The kids' room is actually clean because they have very little left to actually make a mess with. Although, Judah has rediscovered the joy of shooting everything and everyone with his nerf guns, so there are little blue and orange nerf bullets in every room, even outside in the driveway. I think the next residents of our house will find some in very strange places. But if you have ever moved you are familiar with this process. Living out of boxes, not fully in the house anymore, but not yet in the new one. We have started to say good-bye to friends and family; we have left our businesses and jobs. Our start to the school year was not like others. Things are just different. We are not yet "there," but every day brings us a little farther from "here." It's not just a physical transition though. The process of letting go of items we have had for many years was just a reminder that we are no longer in that time. This transition from "here" to "there" isn't just a geographical one. It marks a new chapter in our life.
I lived in Dublin for just under a year and it so radically impacted me that I wasn't the same coming back. It's a large part of my call to this island today. Three years is going to forever change our family and regardless of wether we return to the US, stay In Ireland, or go to a different country. We will not be returning the same as we were. I am keenly aware that these last few weeks here in Washington are the last days of life as we have known it. It's a strange place to be in. New routines have already started, but like any new routine, it gets interrupted, challenged, and tweaked.
Nothing is as it was, but it also isn't yet as it will be.
I have never heard a missionary speak about this time. But this time is critical; it's part of the process. The Israelites spent 40 years in the in-between. It was here that God showed himself to his people so they could know his ways. God set them up. He brought them into barren desserts, dry lands, and through dangerous kingdoms specifically so He could show himself as provider, healer, and defender. The people hadn't settled in their promised land yet, but they were no longer in Egypt. They weren't yet the rulers of their land, but they were no longer slaves. The wilderness was their training ground, it was in that place that they received invitation from God to all be Priests unto Him; they received instruction, training, guidance, and direction. Without this time in the wilderness, they would have not survived a day in the Promise Land. As it was, they still failed in so many ways. Psalm 95 says that they hardened their hearts and as a result did not know the ways of God. They saw his works, but it did not translate in their hearts to who God is. There were the faithful few, like Joshua and Caleb, who demonstrated what it means to come through the "in-between" in victory. They knew God's promises and held to them when everything looked hopeless to others. They could hear God, trusted his voice, and followed his laws. This is our example for these in-between times.
If you are somewhere in the in-between like we are, take heart, it's not forever (hopefully won't be 40 years). It might feel a little unsettling, confusing, and tiring. But God has given his instruction for making it through this. Learn His ways from what He has done in your life up to this point. Live and work from rest; continue in the last direction He sent you in until He tells you to turn. You might encounter a barren dessert, thirsty land, or intimidating opposition. But it is here in the in-between that God shows up in miraculous and mighty ways. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9
We ask that you continue to pray for us as we learn to walk through this time, not just for ourselves, but with our kids. We haven't done this before, we are learning as we go how to parent and disciple our kids in this time of transition. To be honest, it has been a bit messy at times; challenging, tiring, and frustrating. We haven't been perfect at it. But we are grateful to the Lord and our friends and family who have been walking with us. We are looking forward to sharing with you what comes after being somewhere in the in-between.
9/9/2022 11:39:35 am
Love your writing. Beautifully expressed. And while your in-between time involves moving to a different part of the world, this is so so applicable to all the in-betweens we experience in a life of faith between each promise and its fulfillment. Thank you for sharing. Blessings!
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John and Kelsey
Parents, missionaries, sons and daughters...we are sharing our journey, as well as encouragement from the Word of God with you!