So in that goof box, i've been pondering a lot about the "middle". Why? no clue. But usually if a thought visits me often enough, i'll sit with it a while and prayerfully try and discern if there is any value in it from my Abba. If not -- i "take that thought captive". So thankful for His warnings to us to be careful with what we allow to roll around in our heads. But sometimes i find there is some value to the thought especially when i begin to dig through The Bible looking for more of it.
The goof-box thought this week has revolved around "the middle".
Where did that come from?? Well, i was caught in the middle of a tough situation --- you know --- that "peacemaker" position where you know both sides (from each side's perspective) and you feel God's urgings deep inside to help mesh the two sides together.
Before i would have said i was "stuck in the middle", but now, with Heaven-tinted lenses i see it as an opportunity to foster what i know my Father loves ---- peace and grace among His children.
While pondering on "the middle" ---- here's how the colorful goof-box in my brain rolled:
I was born in the middle. It's a good place to be.
You're not the first born --- where big dreams and expectations find a resting spot.
You're not the last born --- where last hopes and visions of perfection linger.
The first and the last are still great places to be born (pros and cons to everything for sure), but...
The middle child gets to chill. You're nothing "new" and your not the "grand finale".
Some people claim to have big issues over the middle-dynamic. But, my parents must have done it really well, because i didn't feel dissed with that middle positioning.
Think about a car ---
--- the bugs and mud hit the front of the car --- and the back of the car can never see where it's going --- but the middle -- well that's where the cushioned seats are with the big windshield for viewing.
Think about a ship ---
--- if there is a rock or iceberg the front of the ship is going to take the impact --- and the back of the ship is always working, motors, propellers, rolling waters churning hard --- but the middle-- that's where the cabins and restaurants and pools are found.
Think about any animal --- you pick
--- the front (head) is always working, looking, listening, chewing, --- the back, well i'll not go there -- but the middle, it's just along for the ride neatly packaged and wrapped in a blanket of fur or scales or feathers.
Yep --- see what my goof-box is like.
Several years ago, we witnessed a dear church undergo war within its walls. Beautiful church, beautiful people -- but it was under an attack from the enemy of our Lord, and it did not weather the battle very well. It was so disturbing to see gentle, kind people become obstinate and unbending. Both sides were staunch and hard. Both sides had very good points, both sides were working to do what they thought to be best for the church body. But we (our little family) ---- we found ourselves smack dab in the middle. Most of all, we did not feel the issue at hand was important enough to argue over. Quickly, two camps formed within the Body of Christ; i often pondered how God felt about it all. As i prayed about it --- two overwhelming thoughts rolled through me --- 1) the realization that God likely cared much more about the actions and attitudes of His children than about the issue they argued over --- 2) God was not being praised -- He was not at the center -- He was not the focus. The Savior was not being worshiped. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done" was being overlooked completely and i felt the grief of the Giver deep inside me.
These were hard days for us. We were not involved in the fight ---- but the many things we were being taught in the middle of the situation was like taking a crash course on swimming just before being tossed into the deep -- during hurricane season with no life-boat. We knew God would teach us, we drew very close to Him and talked to no one around us.
During this time, the pastor of the church approached us to express his displeasure with us that we were not identifying ourselves with one "side" or the other... We were perplexed that he was not a fellow peacemaker --- but instead he was acting as a recruiter for his "camp". See what i mean by a "crash course". He "explained" to us the danger of being "caught in the middle"; saying, "what happens to an animal walking down the middle of the road?" What???? He continued by saying, "Any animal walking down the middle of any road ends up getting hit and it becomes roadkill". He then looked long and hard at us, as if to convey a deep hidden message to us through his eyes, but would stop short of saying the terrible words with his lips. I was STUNNED. A pastor was trying to pressure us to take sides in a church dispute by threatening us with potential demise like an animal in the road. While we were shocked, i'm thinking my Abba may have gotten angry over that one.
I pondered it long that evening ----- and all my heart could hear from Heaven was ---- what position did Christ take on the day He gave all?? Christ was in the middle between two thieves. Christ was in the middle between Heaven and Hell. Christ hung in the middle between a Holy God and an evil Enemy. My Savior saved much positioned squarely in the middle.
Middle ---- works for me.
So lately --- as the notion of "middle" has visited my goof-box often i've carried it to my Abba (yes, He will even let us carry these sort of things to Him), asking Him if there is any value in it ---
Scripture has many references to the "middle".
The tree of forbidden fruit was in the middle of the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:3) But so was the tree of LIFE. (Genesis 2:9) (... there can be much tension in the middle - great contrasts can be seen)
And once the Lord opened up the earth in the middle of the Israel camp and swallowed up two men along with the families and possessions after they had disobeyed Him. (Deuteronomy 11:6) (many witnesses surround what happens in the middle of something)
But God also save the Israelites by giving them safe passage right through the middle of the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:21-22)
We know that the first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 20:16) --- (not sure what that says for the middle...)
When God instructed the Levites to set up HIS Tent of meeting, he told them to place it in the middle of all the camps. (Numbers 2:17) (love it that my Father could have chosen ANY position, and He chose the middle)
When the 4 men seeking help and healing for their crippled friend couldn't get through the crowd to where Jesus was, they lowered their friend through the roof right into the middle of the crowd and in front of Jesus. (Luke 5:19) (Jesus was obviously --- in the middle...)
When Shammah, one of David's mighty men, took his stand and defeated the Philistines, God gave him this great victory in the middle of a field. (2 Samuel 23:12) (which means he was "surrounded" by enemies, just before God gave him the victory)
When Noah built the ark, he did so with the center crossbar extended from end to end at the middle of the frames. (Exodus 36:33) (not sure exactly what that means, but Steve says guys will get it) :)
When the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan River, the Lord told the priests to stop in the middle of the river "on dry ground" until all Israel has passed by. (Joshua 3:17) And then he instructed them to take twelve stone from the middle of the Jordan and place them together on the other side. (Joshua 4:3) (not from either shoreline to mark the beginning or the end --- but from the middle -- hmmm...)
The place of the peacemaker is always found in the middle of the turmoil.
The strength of any building will rely on the spine at its middle.
The control of any wheel is found at its middle.
The Savior gave His all in the middle.
"Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle." (John 19:18)
When we find ourselves in the "middle" and it feels uncomfortable or hard ----- be encouraged ----- you are in good company. Our Lord does lots ----- in the middle.
©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe