Follow Me - MIRACLE IN THE MIDDLE

Excerpt from Miracle in The Middle by Charlotte Gambill

It was just an Ordinary day; the young men were preparing their boats to go fishing. They cleaned their nets and loaded their supplies on board before pushing out from the shores of Galilee. Only this day was not going to end in its usual manner because their routine was about to be interrupted by a life-changing invitation. Their predictable pace was going to be revolutionized because of the power of two words: “follow me” (Matthew 4:19). These words that Jesus spoke offered the fishermen the opportunity of a new beginning—one which held within it the possibility to change not only their lives but the lives of many others, including your life and mine. Those young men were going to become part of the group of twelve men that Jesus would use to change the course of history, and it all began with just two words.

“Follow me” was all Jesus said as he walked by the fishermen that day. It was all the information they had to help them decide if they were going to leave where they were for where He was heading. Jesus offered no further explanation of His expecta- tions. But on the basis of this brief encounter, the disciples would be choosing whether to leave family friends and their fishing business.

“Follow me” was asking for a shift of management; it was a step of faith to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Contrary to how it may have looked to those spectating that day, “Follow me” was not a random statement that Jesus casually threw out. Rather, these words were telling the disciples everything they would need to know about what this journey would require.

Jesus knew the type of characteristics his disciples needed. He knew what it would take to minister to crowds, navigate demands, and deal with the praise and the persecution. So when he walked by the disciples’ boat that day, the invitation was already written. The words were carefully selected—words that let them know the discipleship he was calling them into was a ministry not based on their qualifications or experience, but on their ability to follow.

As I have journeyed with Jesus over many years, I have come to realize that the place where our ability to follow is tested the most is often in “the middle.” The disciples would have to learn how to follow Jesus through highs and lows, good and bad, and from start to finish. We as Jesus’ disciples today also need to develop this same capacity to commit to improve our “follow” ability in every season we enter.

 

 

Keep Climbing - MIRACLE IN THE MIDDLE

Excerpt from Miracle in The Middle by Charlotte Gambill

I remember a few years ago being talked into climbing a mountain. I was excited to start the challenge, and I also felt a little competitive to try and climb faster than my friends who were accompanying me. At first, this adventure began with an enjoyable fast-paced walk along a meandering trail that was surrounded by breathtaking views. However, it soon became a much more testing adventure. It was when we were in the middle of our climb that I remember wanting desperately to go back down. I was no longer determined to make it to the top. I was tired of the loose rock we had to climb over and the places where instead of walking we were crawling on our hands and knees to make progress.

It was at this point we met a girl and her sister who shared the same frustrations. To make matters worse, one of them had fallen and hurt her leg. She was literally on her bottom, moving one shuffle at a time, trying to come back down a steep ravine to ground level. We tried to point out that she was actually closer to the top than she realized. And if she went down in that manner she would hurt herself more. It was seeing her willingness to quit so close to the top that made me assess my own attitude and refocus my desire to make it to the end. As a group we tried to encourage our fellow climber. We even suggested that if she came with us we could help her get to the top. After listening to and looking at our group (and maybe doubting our own ability to make it) she decided she didn’t want to go any higher and that she was going back down to the base. So off she went, painstaking shuffle by shuffle, edging herself down the mountainside. All the energy they had exerted to get this far was about to be rendered worthless, as they would never get to where they had set out to go.

Don’t allow the middle to intimidate you; don’t allow it to make you feel alone, and do not become so weary and disillusioned that you refuse the help God will try to send you. Just as we offered help to the injured climber to enable her to navigate through to the top that day, God wants to extend His helping hand to every one of us. The journey may be hard, and in the middle we may face moments where we are brought to our knees, but those moments are just the pause in your story, they are not the ending.

Are We There Yet? - MIRACLE IN THE MIDDLE

Excerpt from Miracle in The Middle.

The “Are we there yet” questioning of God may be silent to those around you, but it rarely stops resonating inside of you. It can become a repetitive echo in your soul. It can be evidenced by the change in your demeanor, as your enthusiasm for the journey lessens. Now your ebbing faith causes your once confident stride to be replaced by faltering footsteps. At this point, your own barrage of questions begins toward our Heavenly Father, as you seek assurance that this journey has an end destination in sight. It is often in this void that we think we need to hear God’s voice the most and yet it can seem that it is here that He speaks the least. Just like when we, as parents, choose to not always respond to our children’s demands to stop the vehicle or pacify their boredom. In the same way, God doesn’t always answer us immediately.

If we leave this internal turmoil unaddressed it can quickly intensify from a quiet complaint to a temper tantrum with God. At this point, without intervention, the impatient traveler is tempted to take matters into their own hands, often with disastrous results. We attempt to force what God hasn’t endorsed or prematurely leave the route He has planned for us, thinking we will find a shortcut to a breakthrough by ourselves. (By the way, I have tried the shortcut and my advice is to not take it!)

I have asked God many times Are we there yet? only to find no satisfactory answer to help me decide whether I should persevere or give in. The fact is we are all on a journey from where we are now to where we want to be. And in our eagerness to get there we must remember that God never promised it would be easy. We weren’t given a fast pass to jump the part of the process we like the least. The journey of any dream, plan, and destiny will be filled with many highs and lows; it will take you from mountaintop to valley. The scenery may go from breathtaking to boring, but when we trust God with the process every stage can be useful and instructive.

I have asked God many times Are we there yet? only to find no satisfactory answer to help me decide whether I should persevere or give in. The fact is we are all on a journey from where we are now to where we want to be. And in our eagerness to get there we must remember that God never promised it would be easy. We weren’t given a fast pass to jump the part of the process we like the least. The journey of any dream, plan, and destiny will be filled with many highs and lows; it will take you from mountaintop to valley. The scenery may go from breathtaking to boring, but when we trust God with the process every stage can be useful and instructive.

On my own journey I have met many people who are at the crossroads between their dreams and their current reality. They are confused travelers, disoriented by the season they are in. I have seen weary pastors ready to walk away from their calling, tired of the testing and disillusioned by their progress. I have listened to business leaders share how their frustrations were causing them to derail plans for the future. I have seen others quit projects and downscale their expectations because the journey had brought such disappointment that it corroded confidence and deflated dreams. At these crossroads we have to contend with that inner child in the backseat of our mind who is more inclined to quit than to persevere.

Every journey typically goes through three stages. For the purposes of this book I will call them the beginning, the middle, and the end. The beginning and the end act as the two great bookends to the section we’re referring to as the middle. This middle stage can be short or long, but I have found it is usually longer than we want it to be. Though it has moments when it is exhilarating, it is usually exhausting. The middle is also not very glamorous and, therefore, not something we choose to dwell on. The middle is the Are we there yet? part of our journey and I believe one of the most underestimated stages of our growth. Throughout our time together I want to elevate the middle stage and to ask you to reconsider the power in this place that you may even be resenting. I truly believe that in the middle is where you really find out what is in the middle of you.
 

Reflection: What middle are you currently facing?

 

Dare To Be Still

Dare To Be Still

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’  ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:40-42

Guard Your Heart

Guard Your Heart

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Dare To Be Trusting

Dare To Be Trusting

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