You’ve heard of reading between the lines. But how about living between the lines? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
I read a missions article recently, and one of the sentences read something like this: “In a few short years he learned the difficult language and planted a church.” What?!? It’s something that is meant to be glossed over until they got to the real part of the story that would interest people. But think about those “few short years” for a moment – how many tears were shed, how much work was put in, how many hard and trying days did he go through, how many prayers were prayed, how many times did he wish he were back in the US? “A few short years” can feel not very short when you’re in the middle of it.
Think about Bible stories we all know, too. It’s Christmas time, so think of Mary. Ok, so the angel came to her with some crazy news. It turned her world upside down. But then the next day she still had to go get water, cook the meal, clean the house, etc. And the next. And the next. It sounds glorious being the mother of Jesus, but think about everyone who looked down on her for getting pregnant out of wedlock. I imagine there were quite a few nights when she cried herself to sleep and wondered why her, why now.
How about the prophets? I was reading in my study Bible the other day, and it had the dates of Ezekiel’s prophecies. It gave the dates for 13 prophecies over the course of his 22 years of being a prophet. God spoke to him 13 times in 22 years. That may sound impressive, but what about the other 8000+ days that God didn’t talk to him? What then? Yes, some of those were spent fulfilling the crazy things God had him do to try to get the attention of His people (and I much appreciate what God has called me to do over what He called Ezekiel to do). But a lot of them were spent just like everyone else’s days. How many of them were spent wondering if God still cared, if He was still talking? If there would be any more messages? If he had done something wrong so God had abandoned him? And how was Ezekiel to live during those 8000 “regular” days? Were the 13 the only ones that were pleasing to God, or the 8000, too?
How about the people of Israel while they wandered the desert for 40 years? (We like to criticize them for grumbling after seeing the miracles God did for them, but I’m beginning to be amazed by their faith if those are the only times they grumbled. How many of us could number the times we’ve grumbled against God over the course of 40 years? Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I find myself grumbling against God that many times in a week, and I, too, have seen Him work in amazing ways.) Think of those 40 years – day in, day out – collect manna, go get water, cook, eat, wash clothes, etc. Boring, everyday stuff. It’s the stuff that doesn’t get written about. But it’s real life stuff that we all have to deal with. How do we honor God in the boring, everyday stuff? We may get a few times in our life to have those “glamorous” moments that could get written about, and a few of us may even have enough of them that someone would actually write about them. But what about all those other moments of our lives, those moments “between the lines?” What does it really look like to live those for God? How are washing dishes, cleaning the house, going grocery shopping, etc., ways that we can please God?
There are so many people we put on pedestals when we look back over the course of their lives. But looking at it day to day, it becomes much less glamorous. Even being a missionary, lots of people think that it’s this courageous, daring, exciting, thing. Yes, there are those moments. But there are lots more moments where I’m washing dishes, washing my floor, going grocery shopping, cooking, working on my computer, etc. It’s not glamorous. It’s kind of boring and tiring. But it’s real life, between the lines.
Each of us, let’s try to remember to pray for people who appear to have more “glamorous” jobs for God. And pray not only for their glamorous moments, but for their regular, day-to-day, “between the lines” moments. Because we can really worship God at those times, too, right?