Years ago, I heard that J.R.R Tolkien's Middle Earth was a veiled reference to us living in the middle. There are two comings of Christ—the first has come; we wait for the second… we are living in the middle. Tolkien wrote a story in such a way that the spiritual and physical realms were mashed together and the deeds of men and actions of angels and demons were on an epic scale, intertwined. As indeed they truly are! It is always in the middle chapters of a book that the story takes its darkest turns and all hope is lost… almost. Courage is summoned in the presence of fear and a battle that must be fought. Heroes arrive, and yet, when they do they are not heroes at all, they are just desperate characters trying to hang on.
I have long accepted the environment and conditions in which we live. We are outside the Garden… we live in fallenness and as John Eldredge and Brent Curtis wrote in The Sacred Romance...
We live in the greatest love story set in the midst of the fiercest battle.
It is one of the three coordinates of Orientation... Knowing Where You Are. If you understand your surroundings you are well on your way to playing your part. A story without a villain, good vs. evil, is a wonderful story to be sure. We are not at that place yet in our story. That is after the final chapter of this volume is closed and the next volume begins. When our story turns and there is no more sickness, no more death, no more Satan, no more fallen world. Can you imagine? Me either. For now we are living in and moving through the middle. We ought not be among the casualties nor victims. That isn’t the life in which Jesus afforded us and it isn’t the abundant life he promised us.
How would you live knowing the Gestapo could come to your door at any time? Or Isis was in the neighborhood. Or a host of fallen angels are at work in the world, my world, attempting to steal, kill, and destroy my heart, desire, joy, and those I love? Would I live differently with this orientation? Yes! How I pray, how I see, what I hear… all transformed and trained into a Kingdom perspective, an invitation to live in love and at war.
There is only one reason someone invites you or tells you not to be afraid…
‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
Isaiah 41:10 (AMP)
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
John 16:33 (AMP)
So, I want to encourage you… to impart courage. Jesus said, But take heart! I have conquered the world (John 16:33, MSG). We would be wise to claim that today and everyday. For living in the middle is not for the faint of heart, the naive or the ignorant. There is a reason so many either live captive or in the turnstile of small stories and small lives… the enemy of our hearts has accomplished one of the greatest of sinister plots through ongoing propaganda reinforced through daily experiences and others actions, You are on your own… Life is up to you. Nothing could be further from the truth, and yet, that is what a good lie does—has you believing and living under its spell. I invite you to pray and proclaim today an orientation in which He gave His life for… one that assures we can experience and know who we are, where we are, and the good God is up to in our lives and that we can trust him, take courage, and live well in the middle amidst this glorious story in which He is authoring. Let’s Pray…
Dear God, Holy Trinity, You are the creator and sustainer of all things. We declare your glory, power, beauty, and grace over our lives and over all creation. Thank you for loving us, giving us life, bringing us back to life. Thank you for ransoming us, paying for us, and bringing us home… you are our home.
Father, we confess, we have believed the lies of our enemy. We have believed the lies of our circumstances. We have believed far less about you, ourselves, and this story… we have lived out of context and without the truth. Forgive us for believing Life was up to us and about us. Forgive us for naively falling so easily to a small story that had us in the center. No more. We pray for eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart engaged to the Kingdom ways and the Kingdom Life you have given us. We want to take up our part in your Larger Story.
Jesus, thank you for the victory that is ours in you and your full work on our behalf; the cross, resurrection and ascension. Beautiful and mighty is your work and we give it total claim to our lives. We come under your work Jesus and proclaim its power and glory over our lives. We want the fullness of you and the fullness of the benefits you have provided us moving our citizenship from darkness to light, from dead to ALIVE. Thank you for Life in you, for loving us back to Life.
Holy Spirt, we confess we need you. We have all too often been pulled toward the center of the story and found ourselves attempting to make life happen for ourselves. There is no life without you and we pray for both wisdom and revelation in how that all works. Teach us and train us Holy Spirit to be who we truly are, who you created us to be, and who we are in this story. We proclaim we are your image bearers, the sons and daughters of God with all privileges and responsibilities being offered to us. We trust you and we need you, we surrender again and pray you would train us in how to see our false self (the flesh) and its anti-God ways. We renounce all the lies at work in us and coming at us, and we pray for eyes to see and ears to hear that we might be courageous as we live in the middle… waiting for you to come, entering into the battle for the heart that more and more may come to know your love. Amen and AMEN!