The Time In-Between
There is an overreaching concept in scripture that is in stark contrast to our world, something that goes against what society, our culture and everything around us is screaming. I’m talking about the wait, or what I call, the time in-between. The times in our lives after we’ve submitted to God’s plan, but before it becomes a reality. The time in the hallway, while we wait for God to open the next door He would have us walk through. We live in an instant society where almost everything is now, immediate and instant, it’s all at our fingertips and if we are put in a position of waiting, we tend to get frustrated. From our food to our mail to our entertainment, it all on demand and ready for us anytime we want. It seems like fewer and fewer things require waiting, with the exception of the Secretary of State. As a result, we have become terrible at waiting, we get annoyed, we get angry, we lose patients quickly, if we have to wait too long, whatever it is, probably isn’t worth it. We’re guilty of this in our family. If we go onto a restaurant and it more than like 10 mins for a table, were out and on to the next place. This part of life, that has been nearly eliminated from our culture, is a tool that God uses and embraces in the forming of His people and His church. God uses waiting or the time in between with nearly all of us. There is a saying, God is never late, and rarely early. Acts 1:7 says, it’s not for us to know the times and periods God has set by His own authority. God’s timing and our timing are not the same.
God called me to pastoral ministry Nov 9, 2013, at a men’s conference in Indianapolis; nearly 5 and a half years before He called us to plant Unhindered Church. I’ll tell you what, that was a long 5.5 years….of waiting. Many times, I wanted to run out ahead of God and just do it. But He knew I needed the time in between to be molded and prepared, to be put in and out of the kiln over and over. Which is a process that is still happening today. By no means are we ever done with that process, but God will use the time in between to prepare us.
We read in the Bible over and over when God would call someone to do something, there would be a waiting time, some time in between, that would be critical to the character development the individual would need to do what God has called them to do. I would venture to guess, many of you have experienced a period of waiting, or may even be in a time of waiting right now.
So, what do you do during the in between time? How do you make the most of that time and not get discouraged? These are the questions we are going to tackle.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem — a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. They all were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters — the number of people who were together was about a hundred and twenty — and said: “Brothers and sisters, it was necessary that the Scripture be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David foretold about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages. He fell headfirst, his body burst open and his intestines spilled out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama (that is, Field of Blood). “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his dwelling become desolate; let no one live in it; and Let someone else take his position. “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us — beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us — from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, know everyone’s hearts; show which of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry that Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias and he was added to the eleven apostles.
When Jesus had given the apostles their final directions, He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait. The Holy Spirit is coming, and you will by my witnesses to the whole world and the catalyst for changing the way the world relates to God, but first, wait.
From this text we can extract several examples of what the apostles did and we can do during the time in-between.
- They stayed obedient to what they knew. Jesus told them to go to Jerusalem and wait, so that is exactly what they did.
Vs 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem — a Sabbath day’s journey away.
When God has called us to something, the worst thing we can to is just stop. Often God’s call for us develops like compound interest. God builds us up with trials and tests that put us in situations to be faithful with what we know. Luke 16:10 says, whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. If we are faithful with the limited understanding we have at first, we will gain greater understanding. Our call begins to build and take form. What would have happened if the apostles would have said, you know what, since Jesus is gone now, I think I’ll just stop and head for home? God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants and I’m sure His will would have been accomplished. But, that would have really messed up the calling the Apostles had. When God calls you to something, even if you only understand a small portion of it, be faithful to what you know. Be obedient to the understanding you have.
When God called me, I had no idea how He was going to do it. All I knew was that God called me to serve His church as a pastor. So what I did was test the call. I told as many church leaders as I could, I asked for advice, I reached out to many pastors and elders. I asked for confirmation of what I heard God call me to. Then I started classes, I began seeking the training I would need to do what God called me to do.
If God has called you to something and you haven’t begun to do anything with it cause you’re waiting, I would encourage you to tell someone, to talk to people you trust, be obedient to the calling you have by doing what you can while you’re waiting.
2. Fellowship and stay united with other believers.
Vs 13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
One part of our 5-part purpose at Unhindered is fellowship. The gathering together of believers is one of the best ways to gain understanding of your calling and purpose. The church is here for each of us to use our spiritual gifts, teaching, giving, serving, evangelism, hospitality, encouraging, prophecy and so on, to build each other up. How can we reveal our spiritual gifts is we never have a chance to try them out? And secondly, you’d be missing out on other people using their gifts to build you up. If you aren’t part of fellowship, not only is the body missing out on your spiritual gifts, but you are missing out on the body’s spiritual gifts intended to strengthen you.
For me, once I was sure of the call, I asked my pastor where I could serve, what could I do? I wanted to be immersed in everything I could with the church. Within a couple weeks I was serving at the county jail doing jail ministry, I was given the opportunity to bring the message at church at few times, I got involved with small groups as much as possible. Being around other believers was the key for figuring out where God was leading me in my calling.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to serve, start anywhere, serve anywhere, If God has called you to something specific, the best place to start is where you are needed, especially if it doesn’t seem like something you want to do. Don’t let fear hold you back, getting around other brothers and sisters who are serving is the best place to be. As you serve and fellowship, God will prepare and lead you.
Vs 14 They all were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Prayer is the blanket our lives are wrapped in. We must get to that point. Without prayer we’re nothing. In the example of our savior, we see over and over in scripture that He slipped away to pray. Jesus went to the Father before every big decision He was faced with. Do we really understand what we’re dealing with in our prayer life? Our God is always with us, always ready to hear us, always ready to commune with us. But still, sometimes we miss this part of the Christian life. Our Father wants to hear from us, He wants to hear from you.
If you are praying and don’t feel like you are connecting, trust me, it’s not because God doesn’t want to. Psalm 100:4 says Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. I was recently reminded of this by a good friend, if you want to enter into God presence, speak Gods language, start your prayers with thanksgiving and praise, not problems and petitions. God knows all that stuff, He knows your problems. But do we know our Father’s heart? Do we know the Lord is God and rightly deserves to be praised? Do we know before who we stand? Thanksgiving and praise prepare our hearts to come before the Lord, not the other way around. He’s always ready.
There is no activity in the life of a believer which does not require a prayerful attitude—a prayerful dependence on and an expectation that God is at work and will work according to His purposes and leading. In ourselves, we can do nothing. Christianity is never a matter of living by who and what we are; our insight, our abilities, our background, our experience, our training, our giftedness, etc. Rather it is a matter of living by faith in Jesus Christ. But this only happens when we live in prayerful dependence upon the Father through a life of prayer.
4. Focus on God’s Word.
Vs 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his dwelling become desolate; let no one live in it; and Let someone else take his position.
Hopefully this one is a no-brainer. God’s Word is our source of life. There is no where else to hear God clearly and immediately besides His Word, His logos, which is the written word of God. Not to be confused with Rhema, which is the word the Holy Spirit quickens to us at specific times. Your call from God, which may come through Rhema, most certainly will align and agree with Logos. If it doesn’t, it’s not from God.
5. Focus on opportunities instead of obstacles.
Vs 21 “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us — beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us — from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection.
Instead of focusing on the what Judas did and hashing it out over and over, Peter felt led to replace him, based on scripture. So that is exactly what they did. By the leading of God, a new apostle was selected and added to them. It would have been pretty easy to spend the days they were waiting, dwelling on what Judas did and how He died and what went wrong and every mistake they ever made. But, instead of focusing on problems, Peter focused on the opportunity to restore the 12.
Almost inevitably, when we are called by God we immediately think of why not. Why we can’t, or why we aren’t qualified. And as time goes on between the call and realization of it, we will get distracted by obstacles. The best bet of the enemy to discourage us for our calling is to distract us and plant seeds of doubt and discouragement in our minds.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I almost gave up. How many times we thought it was a mistake and not Gods call. The enemy would send people who we were close to, to plant seeds of doubt and discouragement. But God would always reassure us, and send encouragement at exactly the right moment when we needed it most. God is so faithful and loving.
Don’t lose hope of what you were called to.
The lord is faithful and true.