The In Between Place

Lately, the story I am finding myself in has much to do with being in between—in between blessing and lack, in between security and transition, in between family and friends, in between religion and “the world”, and in between God and myself. The more I feel caught in the tension of being a bridge to all of these things, the more I am convinced this is a Divinely chosen journey, and yet the longer I navigate the fairly uncharted territory, the more I am convinced that this is a decidedly uncomfortable and lonely place to be. However, looking at both sides from in between does allow for a certain perspective that others may not have access to. Voices from both sides have questioned and continue to question my placement, and the beliefs I both adhere to and question in order to navigate that middle ground. But here’s what I’ve been learning along the way—holding on to any of my beliefs, theologies, ideologies, or paradigms at the expense of another’s inclusion into God’s heart is the only ground that I have been restricted from inhabiting. What do I mean by this? Well, I think Jesus made it fairly clear, not only with his words, but with the actions in his life. (Not that I think I’m Jesus! But bear with me…)

Think about it for a moment, and the story Christians are completely familiar with, and it becomes apparent that the Father heart of God is more expansive than any of us can ever imagine. (In my mind, the known universe, with its ever expanding nature, is a clear reflection in creation for us to know God’s heart better). When Jesus began his ministry (after preparing for that ministry by building strong, loving relationships with family and friends), his first brilliant idea was to go to the local wharfs and collect the roughest looking fisherman around, not to mention some tax collectors and a local medicine man. All well and good, we might ignorantly think, since these people were the ones he had specifically chosen to be his disciples and carry his message. But how does that translate for us today? What if Jesus were to come here today, and choose his disciples all over again? The sneaking suspicion I have is that those who consider themselves in the inner circles are not the ones whom he would initially gravitate towards. No, I have an inkling that the Divine heart has not changed, and those people who are on the “outside” of that circle have hearts very prepared to welcome the Kingdom and follow Kingdom ways far more easily than those of us who are convinced we already know the right way, the right theology, and the right circles. Did those disciples have their theologies straight? Definitely not. Did he gather them and use their hands for healing and their mouths to spread a message anyway? Absolutely.

The point is, God does not have inner and outer circles. There exists no US and THEM in the Kingdom God is creating with and through us, because to me Jesus had the most inclusive spirit imaginable, and thus was full of warnings for the religious set that believed so strongly in being right with the comfortable paradigm they had already established for themselves. Who are the fisherman trailing after Jesus today, while some of us look on, dumbfounded? This is an important question….

…And this is the struggle: Taking a stand for the idea that Love is the most powerful force in the universe, that God wishes all people to be respected and valued for their intrinsic dignity found in being made in God’s image, and constantly struggling to expand my heart amidst the pain of loss and the negative reaction of those who found it safer the old way. Have I laid down some of my old theologies in order to do this? Hopefully. Will I be asked to take them up again? Doubtfully. Are they essential to relaying the message of God’s heart and being part of a new Kingdom manifesting? Only in so much as I am able to recognize the fisherman who come across my path, still with the residue of Jesus’ handprint on their heart, and am able to listen, receive, and respect that this, then, was Jesus when I did not previously recognize him, and be part of those who continue to seek Jesus in those same places.

This is the in between place.
Sandra Woodward

~ by blueporch on May 10, 2010.

4 Responses to “The In Between Place”

  1. Well said, Sandra. It is strange that the very “systems” of theological belief that we have erected to explain the Divine, have removed the hope of any “mystical” unknowns about our deity. We have been heard to say that God is so much bigger and greater than ourselves, that we can never truly know all there is to know about Him…while practically dismissing any such “unknown-ness” by elevating our theologies to places of inspired infallibility. Perhaps we should all take a deep breath… revisit the incredible words of our living Redeemer… and realign ourselves, our thinking and our practices with the only One who can still say: ”I am The Truth”! Our arrogance as truth-knowers will be exposed…and we will all find ourselves living a new honesty about what we don’t know in the in-between places.

  2. The in-between place is a wonderful place. Living in the in- between space can be a challenging at times though. Over the course of my spiritual journey I would make the observation that we need at least two things to live in that space effectively and without losing our identity. First, I think we need to have had some significant personal encounters with Jesus. We need to be familiar with who He is and recognize his ‘Spirit’ in us and around us. It is like you know the his breath, his smell, his walk. We need to know him well enough that we can pick him out of the crowd, so to speak. We are personally familiar with him. I think the second thing is we need to develop what I will call the skill of transformations.

    I number of years ago in a University course I took was it called the SOI (System’s of Intellect) analysis. It helps you understand how you are intellectually wired and what connections you make. In the analysis is one skill called “ability to see transformation”. It is an intellectual skill which can recognize the same thing from a different angle or side. To live the missional life of living in the in- between space I would think we would need to be able to recognize Jesus at work when we can’t see him directly or from the front. Maybe he is even in disguise. It takes the ability to see him at work when he seems unfamiliar to us.

    I would think those two elements make us effective in the in-between space.


  3. Thank you Sandra, that was beautiful…

  4. Sandra,
    Wow… beautifully put. I find that some of your thoughts make me uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. One thing is sure, after reading this I appreciate your heart all the more. Look forward to connecting sooner than later (more than via a blog – ha).
    Blessings on the journey, and thanks for sharing yours.

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