The Time in Between

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 13-25,30

What must it have been like for the followers of Jesus the day after His crucifixion? He told them He would be back, that He would rise from the dead, but they did not understand. Their emotions were mixed with sorrow and fear. Some, like Peter, must have felt strong regret over their lack of faith in the difficulties of the day before. This day between the crucifixion and the resurrection, the period of waiting to see what God will do next, waiting for God’s help. Have you been in this place before – in this TIME IN BETWEEN?

In Isaiah, we see the Israelites in a similar holding pattern. They knew God was upset with them for their consistent flopping between faithfulness and fickleness. They knew they were about to experience the consequences of their generational choices. They could look back and see the many ways in which God had rescued them and they could look forward to the coming destruction the prophets were describing. In the meantime, in the TIME IN BETWEEN, they needed to wait for God’s help.

But the Israelites had a pattern of looking to their enemies for rescue instead of looking to their God. These enemies were receiving their own message from the prophets – a message foretelling the wrath of God they were about to experience. Because they chose to battle God’s people, destruction and punishment would be in their future. Yet Israel foolishly looked to their enemies for rescue, even their former Egyptian captors, begging them for a supply of horses for their army (2 Kings 18:24). But God desired for them to call upon His name and look to Him for help in the midst of trouble.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt.
They will give us swift horses riding into battle.’…

So the Lord must wait for you to COME TO HIM so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.
– Isaiah 30:15-16a, 18

How often do I get impatient waiting on God and try to make things happen through another source or my own strength? I need to stop reaching out to “Egypt” and come to God with a willingness to WAIT for his help…in his time…his way.

He will be gracious if you ASK for help.
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink,
You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images.
You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them “Good riddance!”
– Isaiah 30:19-22

It is time to throw out MY plans and all of the things in my life that I have made more important than waiting on God – my idols. It’s time to throw them out and say, “Good riddance! I choose God!”

At times God’s plan for me may include adversity, through which he teaches me and guides me. Sometimes the adversity is the result of my own mistakes. But He doesn’t leave me to experience my consequences alone. He doesn’t abandon me in my TIME IN BETWEEN. He stays with me and is my teacher. I hear His voice, “This is the way you should go.” During the hard times, I can rest in him, knowing that there will also be times of blessings pouring down from my Heavenly Father.

Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter – like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds HE gave them. – Isaiah 30:23-26

And so, in the TIME IN BETWEEN, I can wait. I can trust and rest in the knowledge that God is good and that God is present and that God is coming!

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!
Make it a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!”

A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

O Zion, messenger of good news, shout it from the mountaintops!
Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”
– Isaiah 40:3-9

I can wait on God knowing that He is coming! He is my deliverer and my Lord, in whom I trust and for whom I wait. Anything else I could reach out to or cling to will fade away because nothing else is eternal. The word of my God stands forever and He is coming!!!

Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
– Isaiah 40:10-11

The Lord is coming. And so, like Mary, we watch and we wait and we rest. We trust that Sunday is coming.

Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. – Matthew 27:59-61