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In the Middle

By Laura

Don’t you love a good redemptive story? A story of difficulties and trials that no one would choose, but of endurance and faithfulness and coming out stronger on the other side? A story of God’s purposes never being thwarted but instead turning suffering into fruit and life and wholeness?

A redemptive story is told from the end, when redemption is accomplished and visible: limitations accepted, challenges faced, hidden glory revealed. Hallelujah! Unfortunately… that’s not what I have to tell today.

What does it look like to instead tell a story from the middle? I need to know, because that’s where I find myself as I head from North Africa towards a summer in the States. Having walked through the pain of the beginning, trusting there is an end that will bring honor to God and good to His people, but still waiting and struggling in the middle.

We all live in a middle, in the space between Genesis 3 and Revelation 21. In my current story, as in the middle we all experience, you’ll find both joys and sorrows, both shining successes and utter failures. I’d be lying if I said there were no joys or successes; I’d be equally lying if I said those made up the majority of my past 2-year term in North Africa. I trust that God will use my confusion and griefs, my burning tears, and my days of heaviness and trudging for His glory and for my good… and I can’t yet imagine how.

In less than two years, I’ve watched our team shatter from twelve (including kids) to three. Barely twelve months apart, the two families I’d lived alongside for seven years left our team for other locations on the field. I’d love to call this intentional multiplication; the reality is that both leavings came with heart-crushing damage to relationships – some of which are in the early stages of being rebuilt, others of which are still in a downhill slide. I can believe that there are redemptive endings coming, that God will work good from even this; but all I feel is the pain and brokenness of the middle.

The “ministry” arm of my story is also in a middle, although it’s much easier to see a way to a beautiful end when I think about this aspect of my term. I could tell you about opportunities being dropped into our lap, about a sudden inundation of requests for audio Bible players, about local friends caring for us and stepping up to fill our need, about deep God-oriented conversations with nomad friends. But we are still in the middle – not seeing sprouts despite many seeds planted, certainly not yet seeing fruit or multiplication. And so we wait, and hope, and pray for the redemption.

Lord willing, I'll be arriving in Florida for home assignment this week. I can’t wait to see and catch up with many of you who are reading this. And I want to do my best as we connect to honestly name the “middle-ness” of my story. I absolutely want to share about the fun craziness of parts of life in North Africa. But even more, I want to invite you to rejoice with me in the places we can see a likely way to beautiful endings, and to ask you to grieve with me where my heart is overflowing with the pain of the middle. And maybe to hear where you’re at in your story, as we all trust the Lord for the endings only He can see.