We thought a slow, piece-meal move would be less stressful, and in some ways
it was – pack a couple boxes here, move a couple boxes there. But what we didn’t anticipate was how stressful that kind of move would be on our dog and cat. They are smart enough to sense when something is out of sorts. So as boxes were packed and pieces of furniture began to disappear, their anxiety levels rose.
Our dog whined more than usual. Our cat was pulling her hair out. Both were extra clingy. They didn’t understand what was happening – that we were working, preparing, and a new house with a huge fenced in yard and beautiful screened in porch was waiting for them. All they knew was that their norm was being disrupted, and their nerves kicked into high gear.
The more I observed their low-key terror and turmoil, the more I started to see myself in their reaction. And God began to use something as simple and silly as pet behavior to teach me something I needed to learn. Again.
Because how often do I completely stress out when something doesn’t turn out how I expected? How often does my anxiety level rise significantly if my plans are thwarted? How often do my nerves take over if I can’t see what is up ahead? The answer: Way. Too. Often.
Because it’s difficult to trust when I can’t see. Understanding what God is doing behind the scenes is challenging. I can’t always comprehend the ways in which God is working things for good. And as someone who prefers things tied up in neat little bows, I don’t always rest in the hope that something better is on the other side of this Middle. The Middle - where the transition feels like a trap. In between the already and the not yet. A perpetual Wednesday wilderness. Where I find myself fearful and uncertain. Where I often feel stuck.
I recently read through Psalm 27. It’s a psalm with lines that I definitely find familiar. But while reading through this time around, something new struck me – particularly in the simplicity of verse 13.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord.”
For some reason, David hadn’t yet seen what he was expecting. He was in the Middle. Yet in verse 13, he says he is confident that he WILL see the goodness of the Lord. One of my Bibles even titles the first half of this psalm, “David’s song of confidence.” Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how someone could be so confident in something that isn’t yet tangible. But there are three things that point to this confidence, and they are three things we could do well to remember.
The first is remembering who God is. David clearly knew God. He didn’t just know ABOUT God – it wasn’t all head knowledge. There was a trust in David’s tone that points to an intimate relationship. He trusted God’s heart and God’s goodness and God’s faithfulness because he knew those characteristics well. He was able to have confidence in seeing good things someday, because he knew who God was that day - and every day. He knew and trusted the God he believed in.
The second is remembering what God does. David had experience with the goodness of God. All he had to do was recount the track record of God, and he knew God would come through. Because God had come through before (David and Goliath, anyone? Just the tip of the iceberg). He knew God would fulfill God’s promises, because that’s what God does. He could look to the ways God had worked in the lives of others, and in his own life, remembering that God is more than able. And so even while being stuck in the Middle, he could rest in the hope of what was to come.
The third is remembering God’s presence. David knew God was near. Let’s be honest – sometimes it feels like God has let us down. Sometimes we feel distant. But God does not abandon. God does not forget. God enters into our Middles - our struggles, our doubts, our transitions - and God sits with us right where we are. In confusion, God comforts. In heartache, God heals. In questioning and loneliness and unsettled worry, God stays put and His love does not waver.
In the midst of the Middle, we need to remember who God is, where God is, and what God does. Remembering doesn't necessarily get rid of the struggles and doubts, but when we have confidence in those three things, we can have peace despite what we don’t necessarily understand. When it seems like everything is falling apart, we remember Who is actually holding it all together. Even while wobbling around in the Middle, we can begin to stand firm and trust the heart of God – a heart that is working and preparing something GOOD.
When we remember, our faith is bolder, our love is braver, and our hope is stronger.
May our Middle Ground be Holy Ground, and may a still, steady confidence abound.