Here in northeast Ohio we are in the middle of it…the middle of the winter blahs, blues, and boredom. Those of you who are with us know it is forlorn place…we can get cranky, frustrated, and sluggish. But there is a way to make the most of any middle no matter how difficult, depressing, or drawn-out it seems.
This weekend God smiled upon us and blessed us with the gift of balmy 60 degree sunny weather right smack dab in the middle of winter! Who says miracles don’t happen in the middle?
It was a not so subtle reminder to me that God can make things happen in the midst of our personal middles too.
But we have a part to play too, right? God does not offer us a hand out in the middle…where we just sit and wait for Him to come and rescue us. Instead, He offers us a hand up in the middle. We must reach out and grab onto to Him as He slowly and gently pulls us to our feet.
GOD DOES NOT OFFER US A HAND OUT, BUT A HAND UP IN THE MIDDLE.
I know God has been putting me in the middle in so many areas of my life lately so that I have been forced to confront this very dilemma.
- What do you do while you wait in the middle? Is there anything constructive and positive that can be done?
- How do you keep up hope and faith in the middle? How do we push past the fear, doubt, and loneliness?
- How do we reach out and take hold of God in the middle? How do we hear and know His voice?
I hope many of you received my most recent e-book “EMBRACING THE MIDDLE.” It is available to all my email subscribers as a free download. If you have not had a chance to read it (a quick and easy read with cool photos), I hope you will do so soon because it can help you identify your middle. Once you identify your middle, you can not only learn to embrace it, but make the most of it.
Using this metaphor of the middle gave me an idea for my blog posts here AT THE CROSSROADS. Hopefully you learned in one of your English classes that every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Even when we are reading a story, it is the beginning and end that grab our attention and keep us reading, right? We sometimes get bored or lost in the middle. The middle may even tempt us to put the book down or stop reading altogether…but as Shakespeare reminds us:
“A HAPPY ENDING CANNOT COME IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORY.”
The middle is tough, but to be quite honest with you, every good story is written in the middle. It is where the plot and characters are truly defined and developed. It is really where all the “stuff” happens. When you look at a tombstone, it is the dash that represents our middle. Such a small, insignificant, often overlooked little mark represents all the living we do…right there in the middle. Sometimes we get so worried and anxious about the beginning and the end, we miss what God wants us to do in the middle.
I want to challenge you to make the most of your middle in a very practical way. Here’s how…
On Mondays I will try to write a post such as this one. A post of substance to help you get in the right frame of mind to start your week. I want it to also be a “heart and soul” post causing you to ponder, think, reflect, and examine. Call it the beginning of the story. It is a call to action and adventure. It is new, exciting, strong, promising, hopeful, and eager. I want your eager and enthusiastic response to be: “LET’S GET GOING!”
What is the purpose of the Mindful Monday posts?
- To MOTIVATE you
- To help you MAINTAIN the proper perspective
- To MOVE you further on your journey
On Fridays, I would like to return with a post that relates to Monday’s post, but one that provides practical, useful information to push you beyond thinking to doing. From the responses to my reader survey (thanks for the helpful feedback!), many of you expressed a desire for resources such as printable quotes and Bible verses, short Bible studies that a dig deeper with journal questions, and recommended lists of other websites, blogs, books, and Bible studies to help you dig deeper. I am more than happy to provide these for you and will do so on Faithful Fridays.
Think of these posts as a way to end your week or story. A kind of resolution where a lesson is learned, a conflict is resolved, and a success is achieved. I want you to look back on where you started on Monday and feel proud, successful, brave, grateful, confident, and content. Even if you made a small change or discovered one new thing about yourself or God, I want your response to be: “I DID IT!”
What is the purpose of the Faithful Friday posts?
- To FACILITATE your growth
- To help you FOCUS further on the right things
- To FOSTER and FORTIFY your faith
So, Mindful Monday is how we begin and Faithful Friday is how we end, but what about the MIDDLE?
I thought you’d never ask…
Well, and this should come as no big surprise, the MIDDLE is entirely up to you!
You have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday…the middle of the week…to let it make or break you. The middle can make you better or bitter. You can lose steam in the middle or dig deep and find the strength to propel yourself forward. Psalms 90:12 (ESV) tells us “to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” There is productive work to be done in the middle and God is right there with us, but we need to engage and commit.
God may not always take you out of your middle, but just like the welcome surprise of the beautiful weather in the middle of February, He can and does provide respite, relief, and rest even in the middle of our long and difficult journeys.
One thing for sure is that the middle, whatever and wherever it is, is non-negotiable. You cannot skip the middle and expect to make it to the other side. A favorite quote from Robert Frost reminds us of this simple truth: “THE BEST WAY OUT IS ALWAYS THROUGH.”
The reality is we are the only ones who are responsible for making the most of our middles. Whether they are meltdown, monotonous, or miserable middles. Whether they are mid-life, mid-career, mid-relationship, mid-child rearing, or mid-spiritual journey.
I want to help you not only FACE your middle, but EMBRACE it, and I list 5 simple and practical ways to do this in my e-book, “EMBRACING THE MIDDLE.” It is how I want you to start this Mindful Monday. Get the free e-book, identify your middle, and start the process of embracing it.
On Friday, I will make available my brand new short study, “MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MIDDLE.” It will take you through a pretty well known story in the Bible about Jesus’ disciples being in the middle of a sea in Mark 6. It is a literal middle, but there are many spiritual lessons Jesus teaches by putting them there.
One final reminder, the contest to win one of the lovely AT THE CROSSROADS prints by TheHandLetter Shop will be ending in just over a week, so make sure you enter as many times as you can! Here is what one of these beauties looks like sitting in my home…what a blessed reminder that we can find rest even at the crossroads! (You will win the frame too!)