Summary: What can we do when things we have prayed for hasn’t happened yet? How can we have a sense of peace knowing that God’s love in the between times of our life when we can’t see anything happening.
December 23, 2007
Living Without Fear in ‘In-Between’ Times
INTRODUCTION: This week is the last Sunday of Advent. We are nearing Christmas with last minute shopping, wrapping, thoughts of Christmas dinner, being with family and friends and other events, however, we are living in “in-between times.” It is ALMOST Christmas but NOT YET. We have made some preparations--shopping, decorating, planning--but we are still waiting for Christmas Day. We all live in “in-between times_--come to think of it--on many things in our lives. We live between the barrenness of late autumn when the trees are bare and the bright white of winter snow. The “in-between time” of advent to Christmas, between placing a catalog order and it arriving in the mail…waiting for a phone call, waiting to get well. Sometimes living in “in-between times” causes us to have anxiety and fears. What will happen in the future? What will God do? What if…Does God know my needs? The unknown “in-between time” is unsettling to us. How do we live in “in-between times”?
God’s people have always faced the unknown and have survived because of God’s support. There were many “in-between times” for them as they walked by faith rather than by sight. The Israelites faced the unknown as they journeyed to Canaan land. Mary faced the unknown in our scripture today and was fearful at first. The angel told her, “You have found favor with God. Don’t be afraid.”
For us a new year is on the horizon and it is unknown to us. Today our prayer might be, “Lord, help me to settle in this “in-between” place in my life to hear your words of peace.” The God of the future and of the past is also present in our “in-between” time of uncertainty. As we face the new year with its unknowns, God tells us, “Don’t be afraid.”
The prophet Micah in 742 BC announced, “A new ruler will rise over God’s people. He is going to come from a town too small to be included among the 1000 family towns of Judah. The name of the town was Ephrathah which is the ancient name for Bethlehem. Micah prophesied “he is no mere human being--He is from ancient time--meaning from everlasting--from eternity. He will shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord and he will BE THEIR PEACE.”
At this time things were not going well for God’s people. They were living in fearful “in-between” times, but Micah brought the promise of hope and of God’s love to them even though it would be many years before it would happen.
What do today’s scriptures tell us about how to live in “in-between” times?
1. God Knows the Details--Micah was giving some very specific details about Jesus in this scripture. He was to come from a specific town. It was a very small town called Ephrathah which was the ancient name for Bethlehem. Yet he was no mere human--he was from everlasting. He would be like a shepherd over his people and would be their peace. John 7:42 says, “does not the scripture say that Christ will come from Bethlehem the town where David lived?”
God knows the specific details of events that are to happen in our world and in our lives. Years before Jesus came to earth the plan was already in place. It was not an after thought. It was all the time unfolding.
God knows the details of our life whether or not we know or see this. Even in the “in-between” times he has his hand on us to steady us and to encourage us. Even when he appears to be silent in our lives, He knows what is going on. That fact alone should give us hope and give us the courage to go on in faith.
2. God Knows How to Work Out the Details: From the scripture one might wonder, “How can this be worked out? How can such specific details unfold?” We wonder that about our own lives. How can God work out details when it looks as if there is no way He could possibly do it.
In our “in-between” times we do not recognize God at work. We have the tendency to think He is far away, that He has forgotten or even abandoned us. Even when we pray steadily, we do not always see IMMEDIATE answers. We get discouraged and wonder, “Why am I not seeing anything happen? Why is it taking so long? We do not see what is happening behind the scenes.
Jeremiah 1:12 says, “I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.
--I am WATCHING OVER MY WORD TO PERFORM IT>
Throughout the over 740 years, “God was watching over His word to perform what He had said, events were shaping up to bring the Savior into the world at the appointed time. Finally the Angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary in Nazareth--He said, “Mary, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.” She was fearful. But the angel said, “Fear not Mary for thou has found favor with God.” God knew the details, but he just gave a few of them to Mary. The angel told her, “You shall have a son and his name will be called Jesus. He shall be great, called the Son of the Highest. The Lord will give him the throne of his father David. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.