Patience and persistence: Life in ‘between’

A column provided in collaboration with the Center for Healthy Churches (chchurches.org)

Between. Have you ever thought about what that word means? In the space separating, such as between Chicago and New York; or possibly linking, connecting, as in air service between cities.

As I am in this between time, I feel both of these conditions: being in a space between, but also feeling a linking of two times of my life.

A job I had loved for many years ended and I am now in the between space, looking for my next place of ministry. This between space can be unnerving and a bit scary, but the scriptures (and some great, supportive friends) have helped keep me grounded.

It was a comforting time when, within a couple of days, I received emails from two friends who offered devotionals that made them think of me and my between time. They helped me navigate these uncertain waters.

The devotions spoke to me in very different ways.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14). Yes, this scripture from the first devotion was certainly speaking to me.

Life has a mind of its own, with changes we did not want or plan. We can react with resistance and anger, or be strong and wait … waiting and asking:

Is God speaking to me? Is God trying to tell me that I have to be strong and take heart, and wait? But what am I waiting on, and how long will it take?

The word patience kept coming to my mind as I pondered this devotion.

The second devotion started with these words: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” (Gen. 12:1).

The author of the devotion wrote: “Faith hears God’s call and trusts that even though we don’t know where our faith journey will end, God will show us the new place for us. But we have to be willing to get up and go.”

But where am I going, and how will I know when I am going? I must believe that God will show me when I am willing to follow the leading that is before me. As I read this devotion, the word persistence came to mind.

So, as I go through this time of praying, searching, talking and praying some more, I know that God is with me. God is putting in my life supportive people, fulfilling events, and moments to be still and quiet.

Each day of the “between” is different and filled with new lessons. Some of these days will be patience days; others will be persistence days.

There was a person walking in the very dark night and all she had was a small light. She held the light high and realized she could not see very far in front of her.

But as she walked, she realized the light cast a glow bright enough to see the next few steps. She had to trust that the light would be sufficient for the faraway steps too, but only when she got to them.

As I walk through these days of between, I know that the light will be bright enough to see the next step, though maybe not the next 100 steps yet. The light comes in unexpected ways: the love of a spouse; beautiful devotions sent from dear friends; an unexpected call on a résumé follow-up; the quiet moments to rest, breath and listen.

Persistence and patience continue to be the words that guide my steps as I hold my lantern high, hoping and praying that I’m going in ways that are pleasing to God. NFJ

But where am I going, and how will I know when I am going? I must believe that God will show me when I am willing to follow the leading that is before me.

By Grace Powell Freeman

Grace Powell Freeman formerly served as director of Global Missions operations with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.