Fall is a beautiful season, but kind of “in-between.” It is in between the glories of summer and the gusts of winter. During fall, we recall the sunny, lazy days of summer and we plan ahead for the long cold nights of winter.
Spiritual life is similar. We have in-between times. So what do you do with the in between time in your spiritual life? How do you respond to those times in between the glorious summers of life and the cold winters that mark our earthly journey, those in-between times that mark the blessings and burdens of life? May I suggest three things:
First, hold your plans loosely and God’s purpose tightly. We all love to plan, but when the plan is not coming together, we tend to consider either giving up or checking out a new path. Yet the “in-betweens” are moments when often it’s important to recall that, as we wait, God is operating.
His timing is often a lot more like a crockpot then a microwave. He lets things simmer and become just right before He acts. So use these moments of waiting, these in-between times, to listen for the whisper of direction and for the encouragement of determination to keep on track.
Second, be alert to drifting. Often during in-between times we have a tendency to drift. We can find ourselves becoming lax with prayer or taking for granted a ritual to the point that its crispness fades. This can easily happen, but it’s when it becomes an unhealthy habit that we must react.
Use in-between time constructively to review, refresh and recharge your prayer life. Use it to ponder the glories God has put into your life (family, friends and faith) and respond with prayer to the personal storms that from time to time gust through life (sadness, sickness and struggle).
Scripture tells us that several times in His ministry Jesus “withdrew to a place by Himself” to pray for strength. He wanted an “in-between” moment. It is spiritually healthy for us to want one too. Christ took in-between time to reflect on the Father’s will, to ensure His mission was on track and His priorities were in balance. He also took time to pray for those who journeyed with Him. What a great example of a productive way to use in-between time.
Third, don’t let the “me” become bigger than the “we.” We can all have moments, especially during in-between times, when we find ourselves face down and confused. Those times can tempt us to believe our circumstance is the worst ever and we are alone, leading to a downward slope of despair. In these times, reach out in a giving way to others, replace me with we, and take your focus away from self. When me becomes bigger than we, when we feel alone, there is a tendency to give up. But we are never alone. Even when we fall, become confused and stumble in search of the next step, God will carry us to the finish.
St. Thomas More, who was in the in-between of seeking faithfulness to God’s will as he tried to be “a man for all seasons,” prayed: “Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with you in all I face: not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wicked world, but because in them I become yours.”
The in-between is a time to walk with Him in humility, seeking His purpose, taming our pride and growing in Him. So enjoy the in-between of fall. Take it in. Ponder, prepare, pray. Rejoice! A new season is here !