“ALL THE commandments which I command you this day you shall be watchful to do, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not become old upon you nor did your feet swell these forty years. Know also in your [minds and] hearts that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and [reverently] fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; A land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; A land in which you shall eat food without shortage and lack nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for all the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His precepts, and His statutes which I command you today, Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, And when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied, Then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, Who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, but Who brought you forth water out of the flinty rock, Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and walk after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. Like the nations which the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:1-20, AMP)
I talk these days to an overwhelming number of people who could be in a place described as “in the meantime.” The majority of us spend an overwhelming amount of our spiritual walk in the period of “in the meantime.” We wait for leaders to call us back, for events to come forth, for the Lord to speak through us, for His elevation, for His revelation, for the fullness of what He has promised to manifest. When we are in “in the meantime,” we see part of what God has for us – It’s not the fullness of what God has promised us, but it’s not where we started out. Instead, “in the meantime” is a place spent somewhere in between where we’ve been and where we will be; it is the essence of the spiritual sojourn.
I’ve been asked many times why believers spend so much time “in the meantime.” In our modern church, this period doesn’t make sense to modern believers. Modern believers believe they should have whatever they want, whenever they want it, so having to wait, having to seek, having to strive toward something often doesn’t make much sense to them. As with all things spiritual, “in the meantime” has its unique purpose, both building character and spiritual endurance. It is a time in which we learn what we are made of, we learn what is to come, and we learn what is right now. It is a time of learning the empowerment of God within us, the Kingdom coming to reality, and operating in the silence and seeking God for what is next as we trutst Him in a deeper way.
“In the meantime” is the ultimate type of our reality: it represents our spiritual journey through this world. It is signified in the Bible as the forty-year period (representing a period of teaching) the Israelites spent in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. When we come to know the Lord, we come out of Egypt. Egypt represents this world and its cares, its bondages, and all the things within it that keep us burdened and away from the Lord. Egypt seems to have its benefits – especially in hindsight – but there is a severe spiritual void in this world. Once we are free from Egypt, we spend our spiritual journey “in the meantime:” We are officially out of Egypt, but we have not yet preached the Promised Land (heaven or the return of Christ). Philippians 3:20 tells us that we are “citizens of heaven.” Walking with God should give us a longing for Him and for spiritual things beyond that of this world. Nothing of this world will ever satisfy the spiritual things we seek. In this way, the believer can find themselves with a severe emptiness if they are not filled with the Spirit and walking in His presence within their lives. We can recognize this or we can falter, but either way, the choice is ours.
There are two ways people approach “in the meantime.” The first is to walk powerfully in the Spirit through each impass, recognizing it as an instruction between now and the fullness of God’s glory. We understand each answered prayer, each maturity in the Spirit, each moment of spiritual growth to be victory, which is God’s salvation working this side of heaven. We walk in and with the Spirit in and of our daily lives. Do we falter, yes, but we get back up. Do we have our bad days, our doubts, our fears, yes we do – but we take rest and comfort in faith and truth. The just live by faith, not believe by it – and that makes all the difference as they take the road less traveled in every situation. These are those who make it through, walk in a powerful victory, and are able to see God’s promise. Those who walk with the Spirit receive what they need “in the meantime,” akin to the Israelites in the wilderness. God provided manna, quail, and water; their every physical need was met; and God met with His people, guiding and directing them. They had His direct intervention in His lives, guiding them by day, by night, and through their leadership.
Then there are those who approach “in the meantime” without the Spirit. They may call themselves believers, but they deny the Spirit due to their own denominational brainwashings, indoctrinations, or personal doubt. Their “in the meantime” periods drive them to the things of this world, to things that will not satisfy, because they live with a spiritual emptiness. In these people, we see the type of the world itself: those people who do not receive of God, and seek that which does not satisfy. They do not find what they need because their spiritual journey lacks the most essential component: the Spirit. These are such who die in the wilderness, because they fail to see what God is doing and cannot see the victory – that promise of salvation this side of heaven – in everything God does for them.
“In the meantime” is never easy no matter how it comes, because it ultimately reminds us we are still in this world. The waiting, the longing, the growing, are all reminders that we have not yet attained the fullness of what God has promised to us, within us, and for us. We are still here, in the world and not of it, as a testimony, a promise, an ensign of what is to come and what lies ahead if we remain steady and faithful in Him. As we remain faithful, we develop excellent fruit: patience, perseverence, a deeper sense of God’s power, a deeper relationship with Him, and steady conviction which no one can take away from us. “In the meantime” is a time to develop truth in the inward places, in which God’s truth is more than just a musing, but something that permeates us to the very essence of our being. Those who waiver in the desert never see the Promised Land because they live with unbelief, even if we never see it on the surface.
“In the meantime” reminds us that our walk with God is more than skin-deep; and if it is to last, it will last through both trials and victories. In these times, we are tested unto obedience: Will we believe, even if we don’t have what we want? While we wait on God, we learn more about God, and about ourselves with Him. Anyone can stand in the midst of an incredible spiritual outpouring and believe…but not everybody can stand with God and believe “in the meantime.” When we stand with God through such times, we will have something nobody can take away from us, and walking to the Promised Land with an eternal victory.
If you’re “in the meantime” right now, which I suspect most reading this are, step back and see it as a bigger picture, a bigger illustration of what God is teaching, instructing, and doing within and through you. Allow God’s timing to empower you, that when it’s time to walk right in to the promise, you will not fall back with unbelief, having to be left behind.
(c) 2012 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.