Are you surprised my subject is In The Middle rather than In The Beginning? After all, it is Â the beginning of a new year, the beginning of new resolutions, and even the beginning of a new tax season.
Remember the old saying: Itâ€™s how we live in the â€œdashâ€ (19??- 20??) that counts?
In the beginning, with childlike faith we planned for perfect happy endings, for happiness and honeymoons.Â And as Christians we hope and believe that at the end of our dash we will be granted eternal life in heaven.Â But the middle of life brings stresses, challenges, obstacles, loneliness, sufferings, and even failures. And we are challenged to keep the same attitude as we had in the beginning: to live life in faith that He has control of the outcome, to TRUST in Him.â€œLet what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life…And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming,â€ (1 Jn 2:22-26).
God tells us that as believers, life, the middle, will not be perfectly happy, that we will be persecuted for our belief in Him (Timothy 3:12), and that while we suffer we are supposed to have peace and take courage for â€œI have conquered the world.â€ (John 16:33)
The middle is about crosses — crosses which reflect His gift on the cross; His will, not mine.
In the middle of lifeâ€™s journey we are given choices, choices of trust and faith that are forced by sufferings, challenges, and loneliness, by new beginnings and untimely endings. I am given the choice to freely give love even when it is not given back; to pray rather than to complain; to accept responsibility for my actions rather than to blame others for what has happened to me or my family; to serve rather than to be served; and to chose Godâ€™s world rather than this world.
Do I trust God like a child trusts a parent or am I overcome by worry and fear?Â Do I have an attitude of gratitude or do I expect rather than accept?Â Do I choose Godâ€™s love in the middle, to love one another as He loved us (He died for us) and as He asks us to love: â€œlove is patient, love is kind…it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truthâ€¦ it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thingsâ€ (1 Cor 13: 4-6)?Â Do I make choices in faith: to keep my resolutions, vows and His covenant, even in the sufferings, so that my middle, my dash, will have new life at the end?
Dear God, May I always praise you even when things arenâ€™t going my way. May the middle of my life say â€œfaithful, courageous, peaceful, and loving.â€ Thank you for the gifts that you have given me in the middle of the hardships to remind me of your presence each day. Amen.
Blessings in the middle of each of your decisions.