Summary: This message is part three of a series I started in 2008. This message examines how we walk during our "mean times" while also reflecting on the past seven years.
In The Mean Time – Part 3
Scriptures: Heb. 11:7-17; Psa. 37:23; 119:133; Phil. 3:14
In 2008 I did a two part series I titled “In the Mean Time.” This message will be part three of that series although it’s being delivered seven years later. In 2008 I talked about some of the things we do when we are in transition from one purpose to the next; one situation to the next; and/or one place in our lives to the next. In those messages I told you that what we do in the mean time directly impacts how we go through something. The outcome of most of our situations are actually decided or influenced by what we do “in the mean time.” When I delivered the first two messages in 2008, my father was dying and my company was going through a layoff and I was in limbo as to its effect on my position. In 2008 I used that example of the upcoming layoff at my job in my message. During that time we were notified in August so we all had five months to prepare for the “what if.” Many people were stressed, angry, and immediately began looking for other opportunities. When I delivered those two sermons, I was in my “mean time” unaware of what would happen. What I did know was that regardless of the decision that my company made, God would take care of me. So while the decisions that were being made were out of my control, I filled my time seeking God’s wisdom and His kingdom. I did that then and continue to do so now because the Word promises me that if I do this, everything that I need will be provided to me. My job is to seek Him; His job is to take care of the rest – those things I need in this life. When I stop trying to do His job and start doing my job (seeking Him and His righteousness), things tend to fall into place. Having this understanding allowed me to sleep at night because it was not about me, it was about God.
So here we are seven years later and I am delivering part three of that series. My father is in Jesus’ presence and I am no longer with the company I was with in 2008. Things have also changed for this Church. For example, in 2008 we were meeting in a school. Today, we own this Church outright – it’s paid in full. In 2008 many of us were working somewhere else and we had more members than we do now because people had jobs here. In those “mean times we lost members as they moved to find new job opportunities.” We did not envision that in 2008, yet it still happened. I am sharing this with you so you understand that while we may have our plan it’s just that, our plan. But when our plan gets interrupted and we go through those transitions that I will refer to as “in the mean time” it is those times when we have to make a choice. Take a moment and think about some of the “mean times” you have gone through since 2008 and where you are today versus where you were in 2008.
This morning I want you to consider what you are doing “in the mean time” when there is uncertainty and you do not know what will happen. What are you doing “in the mean time” as you are going through? And finally, what are you doing “in the mean time” when you have come through? Just to be clear, we all have “mean times”, those times between where we are now and where we are striving to get to. Consider where you are now spiritually versus where God is trying to take you. Do you believe that God has ordered your steps? I will come back to this question, but first let’s spend a few minutes describing this “mean time.”
I. Facts About The Mean Time
Our mean times are often some of the hardest times that we will face. We often leave one place (physically, emotionally and even spiritually) to arrive at another place. While we are in transition our fears about the “what ifs” begin to play through our minds as we contemplate the possibility of not arriving at our next destination. While we are in our “mean time” we must exercise a level of patience that is often hard to find – let alone exercising the peace of God that has been given us. Because all of our faith levels are different and how we respond to situations is varied, none of our mean times are the same.
In 2001 I had a conversation with my older brother Barry. He had been laid off from his job. He was unemployed and chose to wait on God for his next steps. He had previously worked in public relations at Wright State. Well, in 2002 God did two things that changed his life. First God led him to go into the insurance business and second, he led him to his current Church. Now, 14 years later, he is partially retired (works when he wants to) with a steady income and has plenty of time to spend with the Lord. He is also on staff at his Church and is able to exercise the gift that God had placed within him having earned the respect and trust of his pastor to the point that he often fills in for him when his pastor is traveling. Fifteen years ago (prior to 2001) you’d be hard pressed to convince Barry that this would be his life. Selling insurance, to my knowledge, had never been on his radar and he was not a regular member of any Church. During his mean time – his time between being laid off and starting his new career, he spent time with the Lord. He sought His face. He sought His will. He understood what many people miss – that God had a plan for him and it might now match up with what he wanted for himself. He was open to go where he had not thought of going before and look how it played out? He knew little about the industry where God sent him and nothing about the Church where he is currently on staff. What he did know was that he was being led and if this is where God wanted him everything else would take care of itself – and it has! Barry believed Psalm 37:23 and 119:133.