“Caught in the Middle”
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! – Psalm 27:14
We spend a lot of our lives “caught in the middle.” We head to work and get caught in the middle of a traffic jam. We enter a conversation and get caught in the middle of an argument. We make an investment and get caught in the middle of a market downturn. We join a church and get caught in the middle of a theological con-troversy. We dream of our future and get caught in the middle of things we did not foresee and would not have chosen. We really do spend much of our time caught in the middle of being caught in the middle.
When you are required to wait, it means that you are caught in the middle of something, and when you are caught in the middle of something, it immediately means that you are part of something bigger than you. Being caught in the middle is disconcerting and irritating because we all tend to give into the delusion that we have more power and control over our lives than we actually have. Self-sovereignty is the dream of every sinner. It’s hard for us to trust ourselves to the wisdom, power, and control of another. We want to write our own dramas, and we want to be the central character of the story. But the spiritual reality of the universe is that we are not the authors of our own story.
Our story is a part of a larger story that is part of a larger story that is written by the Lord. In this story we are never on center stage. That is a position to be occupied by the Lord alone. When you recognize that you are caught in the middle of some-thing, you are recognizing something that is profoundly important. Let me detail how practically important this insight is.
First, it means you were meant to live for something bigger than yourself. You are not in control. Your story is not ultimate. You have been created to be part of something that is larger than your wants, your needs, and your feelings. You are connected to something that is bigger than your relationships, your situations, and the locations that you move in every day. You are waiting, because God said you are a part of his kingdom. God, whose timing is always perfect, works according to his wise plan and at the right moment. But as you wait, he is doing something in and for you. He is crafting you into the per-son his grace alone enables you to be.
Second, it means you were created to be dependent. The independent, this-is-my-life-and-this-is-what-I-will-do-with-it view is a delusion. The thought that you have everything you need to be what you are supposed to be and to do what you are supposed to do is a fantasy. Each of us is dependent on God for our physical life. We all know that we do not control the many, many things around us that must work in order for our lives to work. We all know that our life doesn’t work according to our plan. We couldn’t write the story of today and accurately predict what we will face. Contrary to what we often think and how we often act, we all live a life of reliance on God.
Third, it means that the things you need most you cannot provide for yourself. God has controlled the forces of nature and the events of human history in order to give me the one thing I desperately need and could never earn, deserve, or achieve—new birth. Without the intervention of his powerful heart and life and his transforming grace, I would be a dead man walking. But he has given me life, and he is now working to change me into what I, if left to myself, could never be. I wait because his grace is still at work. I wait because he is not done and I am not yet complete.
Fourth, it means the final chapter of your story has been writ-ten but has not yet unfolded. There are more places God has written for me. There are more characters to appear in my story. There are circumstances that he has designed for me to encounter. There are moments of blessing and times of difficulty that have already been written into my story by the One who is not only in control but is also wise, gracious, kind, and good. He already knows the exact path he will cause me to walk and how that path will result in his glory and my good. I could never write an autobiography that would accomplish what his story for me already has and will accomplish.
Fifth, it means that the One you are waiting for is trustworthy. I know that there are times when waiting is painful. I know there are times when it seems as if it is impossible to wait. But you and I must remind ourselves that we wait not because irrational and impersonal forces function as obstructions and interferences in our lives. No, we wait because the world is carefully administered by the one Person who is ultimate in power, ultimate in authority, and ultimate in wisdom, while at the very same time being ultimate in love. You are being asked to wait by One you can trust.
Sixth, it means that in those moments when you are caught, you can rest. Don’t give way to panic. Don’t give into doubt because this is not what you would have planned. Don’t allow yourself to play out all of the “what if’s” and “if only’s” in your mind. You are waiting because there is a plan. You are waiting because your life is under the control of One who is wise and good. You can rest, not because you know what is happening, but because you know the One who is in control of what is happening to you right now. You can rest because you know he has made you a part of something wonderful, and he knows what he is doing in you is good, even though at this moment it feels as if you have been caught in the middle.
Take a Moment
In what area of your life do you tend to be frustrated and irritated because you are “caught in the middle?”
How would your living change if you embraced the reality that God has already written a better story for you than you could have ever written for yourself?
Article Above adapted from Paul David Trip. A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble. Wheaton: Crossway Books. 2009.
About the Author:
Dr. Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries (www.paultrippministries.org), a nonprofit organization, whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” This mission leads Paul to weekly speaking engagements around the world. In addition to being a gifted communicator and sought after conference speaker with Paul Tripp Ministries, Paul is the Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. As an author, Paul has written many books on Christian Living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella and they have four grown children.
He is the author of the following excellent Christ-centered books:
Dangerous Calling: Confronting The Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2012.
Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
What Did You Expect? Redeeming The Realities of Marriage. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.
The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (contributor). Wheaton: Crossway, 2009.
A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009.
Broken Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad. Shepherd Press, 2009.
Helping People Change (with Timothy S. Lane). Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2008.
Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.
Helping Your Adopted Child. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2008.
Peer Pressure. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2008.
A Quest for More: Living For Something Bigger Than You. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2007.
Grief: Finding Hope Again. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2005.
Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God. Shepherd Press, 2004.
Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood (contributor). Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2002.
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2001.
War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Communication Struggles. Phillipsburg, NJ P&R, 2001.