It is the beginning of 2021 and I am writing this during the third national lockdown in England. Writing narratives from the middle of things can be risky because there is no perspective on how things will turn out in the end. Therefore it is interesting that the God of the Bible should describe Himself as the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end.
He is the source and He is the conclusion. The most grotesque of narratives can be changed in their course. Because of who He says He is, we can peel away thousands of years of a damned earth and picture it in its original design of beauty untarnished. Everything begins and ends with His glory.
The trouble is that most of our days are lived in the middle. While we remember the perfect beginning and long for the restored future, we are in an ill and imperfect present.
These are the days of the middle. The days when we groan in our bodies - our temporary homes. The days when we stumble and fall on our faces, weary from battle. The days when we are tempted. The days when we wander away in self-sufficiency, eventually running back to the cross in desperation. When we are caught in dreadful storms and cry out for the land of no sea. These are the quiet days of emptiness, shallow love and hollow words.
What do your middle days look like? Are you trying to see where they fit into the story? Do you feel stuck in the middle, detached from the good news of the beginning and the end?
I realised, recently, that sometimes I hold on so tightly to the big picture that I struggle to take clear stock of the every day. There will always be things that will only be resolved in the larger narrative - the narrative that began in the gorgeous Garden and will end in the shiny New City. For some things we just have to wait.
Then there are the things that belong in the smaller narratives with the morning mist that settles and then vanishes. A song of praise sung from start to finish. A room swept clean from inch to inch. An apple fully peeled. A letter written and sealed. A book consumed from cover to cover.
My prayer is that in the disorientation of lockdown days, I will find beginnings and endings. I will identify these tiny stories that make up these middle days. They are valuable not just in their sum, but on their own. The grand story of grace is perhaps deconstructed into thousands of disjointed little ones.