Over and Next
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:12-14
Recently I was listening to the NPR quiz show, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”, in which each week for part of the episode, they interview some kind of celebrity or public figure and then ask them three quiz questions. The episode from 7/2/16 features Norman Lear, producer of such classic sitcoms as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons”. When asked if he, at age 94, had any tips for younger listeners, he offered this wisdom:
“What occurs to me first is two simple words, maybe as simple as any two words in the English language: over and next…and we don’t pay enough attention to them. When something is over, it’s over and we are on to next. And if there were to be a hammock in the middle between over and next, that would be what is meant by living in the moment.”
I love the imagery of the time between “over” and “next” being a hammock. For most of us, what lies between “over” and “next” is a time of transition, and that can be incredibly uncomfortable. We can’t go back to what is over, and we may not be entirely sure of what is next. What’s happened is gone, but what is coming hasn’t happened yet, and so we sit in between, waiting to see what God is leading us to. The enemy would love for us to give in to fear during these times, to rob us of our peace and instead have us unsettled, stressed and anxious. What if I stay stuck here forever? What if this is my lot in life? How in the world am I ever going to get to the place my heart desires to be? But this imagery Mr. Lear offers is profound; what if, instead of stressing out during the in-between, we remained at peace, as relaxed as we would be if we were taking an afternoon nap in our favorite hammock. A hammock is a place of rest and comfort. It offers rejuvenation and an opportunity to savor the spot we’re in. In fact, staying still and resting is the only way a hammock works; if we fidget too much or move the wrong way, we can spill out of it all together. We can only stay suspended in a hammock of we lie still. In the same way, for us to stay at rest while in transition, we must choose to keep our minds and hearts still, trusting completely that God’s hand is holding us securely.
So lie back, take a deep breath and really rest in His presence. He’s got you right where He wants you, and He is faithful not to leave you there. Allow Him to minister to your spirit while you go through the in-between so you will be ready for the “next” He is bringing you to!