The vast majority of life is lived in the “in between places”—the space between the mountain tops. The “in between places” are flatlands of life where we don’t visibly see God doing something miraculous. These are the places that follow the mountain tops—they stitch the high points together with mundane redundancy.
Last night at EBC we studied Joshua 4—an “in between place” for the nation of Israel. More than a million of them have just miraculously crossed the River Jordan on dry ground! Euphoria, celebration, ecstatic joy must have filled the camp with every new wave of families that stepped up from Jordan’s mile-wide, sandy river bed!
What a mountain top! What a high point of providential, epic proportions!
Now the miracle is past. The big event is done. Temporary euphoria has led to inevitable adrenalin crash. After an evening of jubilant celebration, the Israelites awaken to a new day—a regular day—an average day—an “in between” day. No miracle today. No epic intervention today. No parting waters today.
What does God do in the “in-between places” of our lives. In truth they are the most important places. We may want more of the high points—more vacations, more spiritual victories, more miracles, more big providential memories. But most of life is lived in the in-between places. Therefore, what we do in these places is of paramount importance.
How should we handle the “in between places?” Here are four biblical responses:
1. Commemorate What God Has Done.
During the in between places, God wants us to remember! He wants us to revisit, recall, and memorialize the epic “faith-moments” of our lives. He wants us to rehearse the seasons where He proved Himself real, alive, powerful, loving, good, and undeniably active in our reality.
When you hit the adrenalin crash of the “regular days”—when you come to the long flat-lands of the “in between times” when you wonder where God went, what He’s doing, and why you can’t see Him like you once did—there are some things that will absolutely shatter the fog. One of those things is just taking time to remember all that God has done in your life up to this point.
Chances are, even if you can’t sense God at work in this moment, you’ve seen Him mightily at work in the past. Take time to remember! In the days ahead, that same God will work again.
2. Coach the Next Generation.
Epic moments are awesome, but they are also busy! Mountain tops are intense. They demand time, attention, and emotional energy. Mountain tops don’t allow for a lot of relational time for generational influence. In other words, when you’re crossing a miraculously-parted Jordan River, you’re probably not able to have the long, drawn out conversations with your children that you could have around the campfire at Gilgal.
So God says to these people, “Take twelve stones and place them in this camp called Gilgal. Then come back to Gilgal with your children. After you have gone throughout the promised land obeying in faith, conquering, and claiming my promises—come back, often, to Gilgal. Take a break with your kids. Have some in between time where you can dialogue about faith, about miracles, about Almighty God.”
Even so, the “in between places” for us are times when we should mentor—hand off our faith to the next generation. God expects us to have our own Gilgals—favorite places where we can retreat with our children. He expects us to be approachable and open to honest dialogue. He expects our children to be curious about the faith. He expects our children to see our real, dynamic faith. He expects them to asks questions. And He commands us to have answers—not just theological answers—but real, practical, lived-out answers. He expects us to have answers from the depths of our own realities with God.
Every child needs to see his parents exercise great faith at least once in his childhood! And every child needs regular, recurring Gilgal moments where open, curious, and heart-to-heart dialogue can take place.
3. Catch Your Breath.
In this chapter, the people set up camp, rested, ate, fellowshipped, and awaited their next instructions. They restored after a season of exertion. They’ve been expending themselves—packing up a massive camp, moving close to Jordan, preparing for the crossing, experiencing the crossing, and setting up camp in Gilgal! This is a lot of work, and these people are, no doubt, tired.
God is ok with you catching your breath! He doesn’t expect you to go from mountain top to mountain top with no flatlands in between. He created life—He created YOU—with the intent that restoration follows exertion. Like breathing involves exhaling then inhaling—life has a lot of exhaling times, but it must also have its inhaling times.
The “in-between-places” are seasons when we restore. These are times when we rest, prepare, and renew our hearts with God and for His future plans for our lives.
Great works for God require great exertion followed by great restoration! They go together. If you try to perpetually give out, you will eventually “give out!
This about setting a sustainable pace—in life, in family, in marriage, in work, in ministry. God didn’t create the faith life to be a continual sprint with no breaks. He created a marathon with lots of “water-stations.” Expend a while, the rest a while. Exert a while, then recover a while.
Do you have Gilgal places where you go to restore? Do you have points on your calendar when you deliberately set your pace—when you deliberately take more time to rest, more time to enjoy your family, more time to feed your soul? God expects you to live in balance, and no one is going to rescue you from imbalance except YOU. If you’re living out of balance, you can’t blame anyone else. You’re probably the only one holding the gun to your head.
Make intentional, responsible decisions to live with healthy, sustainable pace. Don’t play the victim. Don’t be unwisely beholden to someone else’s agenda to the point that you neglect biblical balance. Be wise, be courageous, and make the tough decisions that “catching your breath” requires.
4. Carry On in Reverent Faith.
God ends this chapter by calling the children of Israel to continue fearing Him forever. Earlier in the chapter they “feared” Joshua—not necessarily a good thing. God wants the fear. God wants the allegiance. God desires the reverence. He is the true object of our faith. Not men. Not high moments. Not miracles or victories. He is the one we follow, faith, and fellowship with.
The “in between places” are days when you continue forward for God in sweet fellowship—doing what is right because you love and reverence Him. These are Enoch days—walking with God. These are the places where we experience the wonderful, blessedness of sacred redundancy. Healthy redundant routines are good if they are right. And the “in between places” challenge us to fall in love with right routines—consistently following God day after day, even when He isn’t parting waters or felling giants.
Not every moment in your walk with God is euphoric. Not every day in ministry is mountain top. Not every week in the Christian life is monumental. Most of life falls between the mountain peaks in the “in between places.”
No one can stay on after-burners constantly. No one can infinitely exhale without running out of steam. No one can endlessly exert without coming to an end.
The “in between places” bridge the providential miracles—stitch them together with fellowship, rest, restoration, renewal, and enjoying the goodness of God. Connect the mountain tops of life with long periods of commemorating what God has done, coaching your children, catching your breath, and continuing forward in reverent faith.
The days ahead will require more faith, more surrender, more sacrifice. The days ahead involve some trials, some setbacks, some disappointments of which you are not aware yet.
To be adequately prepared for the coming mountain tops and the coming valleys, you need the “in-between places.”
Be sure God is working in your “in between places!” Steward them wisely!