The Day In-Between

In-between times are hard.  Even a short period of in-betweenness can feel as though it stretches out for eternity.  How to fill the time, speed the clock hands faster from one event to the next anticipated one?  As a child life seemed a constant avalanche of in-between times.  Adults were so slow, time was so slow, and there was so much good stuff waiting ahead if only time would move faster!

As an adult, I don’t have many in-between times any more.  It seems as though I’m wondering how the time passed so quickly, how I could already be at the Next Big Event.  I haven’t even finished cleaning up from the Last Big Event.  If only the steady gaze of the digital clock would blink a bit more often.
Easter Saturday is one of those rare in-between times.  Not as though there isn’t plenty to do, but it’s a breathing space between the ruckus of the past week and the celebration tomorrow morning.  After mad-dashing everything, Saturday seems oddly out of step with the mayhem of Holy Week.  
For the disciples of Jesus, of course, this was a day of mourning.  Their rabbi and friend was dead.  The one they thought was going to usher in a fabulous new era for God’s people was publicly executed by the very foreign power they had hoped He would displace.  What had gone wrong?  What had they missed?  What could all those amazing healings and feedings and resurrections and teachings have meant, if He could so suddenly be gone from their midst.
And if it could happen to him, the same people who saw to his death would have no trouble bringing about the disciples’ deaths.  
Through the blessing of hindsight, today is not an in-between day of fear and dread.  I don’t have to hide out behind locked doors for fear of being arrested.  I know what tomorrow brings.  I know the end of God’s Story, even if I’m vague on the particulars of future chapters of my own story.  I know what happened on the cross.  I know what happened at the empty tomb.  I know that by faith, I’ll be in that great family reunion snapshot of Revelation 7.  
In-between, I have a lot to do.  I’ve been blessed with a lot to do.  People to love and be loved by.  Scraped knees to clean.  Intellectual rabbit-holes to dive down over coffee or tequila.  Good news to proclaim, both to those who already know it but are as prone to forgetfulness as I am, as well as those who may never have really heard it before.  There’s no shortage of things to fill my days, and perhaps the biggest struggle I face is remembering that these things are important and have meaning, precisely because I’m in-between. 
For those who don’t believe or don’t know that this is in-between, I can’t imagine how frustrating things might be at times. We put so much time and effort into so many things that don’t matter in the long run.  Working with older adults, I recognize this.  So much money and time and effort going into things that we let slip from our hands in the final moments without a second thought.  
Each day has to have meaning then.  If this life is in-between the glory of the resurrection and the Promise of the Son of God’s return in glory, how to find meaning?  So many people struggle with this it seems.  So many young people who should be anticipating lives full of excitement and joy instead are numbing themselves with alcohol or drugs or any number of other things in an effort to fill the gaps, to pass the time.  Except that they don’t seem to be passing the time towards anything.
Without a larger narrative, without a firmly set place in a large story that is unfolding gradually but surely to a definite end, what’s the point?  Why bother working?  Why bother loving our neighbor?  Why bother with anything other than intermittent moments of numbness or pleasure?  What’s the point of going on?  It would seem that many people – perhaps an increasing number of them – are realizing that without God, there isn’t a point.  The only honest alternative is to face an utter meaninglessness of life, as this  very good essay (with thanks to Gene Veith’s excellent blog and reference) point out.  
The Christian life can struggle somewhat with all of this as well.  We can become confused and distracted.  We know that this is an in-between time, but it’s the only kind of time we’ve every known.  Maybe it is all about the nicest car and the biggest house and the hottest spouse and the perfectly educated and trained children.  Maybe those things are important, even if it means missing out on the smaller, less emphasized in-between moments of community and time together and looking out for those around us.  
This is the in-between time.  It isn’t pointless.  We are directed by and towards not just something but someone.  Our meaning is inherent, not store-bought.  It is infused into our selves and everything and everyone around us.  Perhaps this in-between time is a gift to rediscover and remember that very thing, to better prepare us for who is coming.  How will you spend your in-between day, and your in-between life?  

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