We have competed our look at our three understandings of God's will (prescriptive, sovereign, and intervening) and have found help for handling well the "in between" times that come into our lives when God shuts "the door of what has been" but has not yet opened "the door of what will be." We were introduced to our need to handle well the "in between" times of our lives by Josh Adams in his message on "Closed Doors" this past Sunday. Josh used Scriptures from the story of Jacob for the insights he shared with us. Over the last three days of our week we will explore these Scriptures for our Devotional considerations.
In Jacob's earlier years he went through doors of his own making to get to where he wanted to go. These dealings resulted in him being in the land of his mother's brother, Laban, because he had fled from his brother, Esau. And yet his being there put him on track for the fulfillment of God's desires for his life (Genesis 28:1-5). After 20 years there, God had blessed him with a large family, much livestock, and many possessions. It is at this point that God closes the door on this chapter in his life.
Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.” Genesis 31:3
Soon after this moment, Jacob leaves for the land of Canaan but it is not until the end of Genesis 35 that Jacob is entirely settled back in the land of his forefathers. There is a lot of "in between" that happens in these 5 chapters. The first thing that happens "in between" is that Laban pursues Jacob. After Laban catches up with Jacob, the two of them are able to settle a number of issues. What had been a partnership of sorts, ends in a treaty as we see in the following passage.
“See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. Genesis 31:51-52
Even though all this happens after Jacob left, it is at this moment that the reality of the closed door is most real to him. As Jacob continues on from here, there really, truly is no turning back. We all can relate to the "what was" side of the "in between" times of our lives. While Jacob hasn't arrived at the "what will be" side of the "in between" yet, he has reason to be unsure about how open the door will be for him to return to the land of his forefathers considering the mess he left behind when he left there 20 years earlier. We can all relate to what it's like to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the door we are moving toward will be an open door. As it turns out, his concerns are not unfounded as we see in our final passage for today.
After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, “We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!” Jacob was terrified at the news. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. Genesis 32:6-7
Jacob is experiencing the fullness of what it means to be "in between." Seemly, he can't go back and he can't go forward. We will pick up with what happens next in the story tomorrow. But for now, we need to recognize that being truly "in between" without being able to go back or forward can be a very important place to be. Sometimes we don't come to the end of ourselves until we come to the end of our options. It is in the truly "in between" times of our lives that we are moved to a new depth of awareness of God, surrender to God, and dependence on God.
Lord, thank you for giving me a greater appreciation of the "in between." Truly, the journey is just as important as the destination. Help me to value very highly the opportunities for growing in genuine faith that come with the "in between" of closed doors. I am humbled as I realize the depth of your wisdom and extent of how you are at work on my behalf in ways that really count for all eternity. Amen!
Posted on Thu, August 20, 2015
by Alan Porter