In the Gap~
Journal written in 2015; 5 years ago…
“The Gap”, “In the Gap”, “God in our Gaps” seems to be a resonating theme this year for our family, and maybe not just our family.
Through this kind of subconscious observing I am becoming drawn to “the gap”. This word has been holding my attention lately. It seems that many of us somehow find ourselves stuck “in the gap”; that space of “in between-ness” or “in between-MESS” being the better way of defining this place of fear, uncertainty and being uncomfortable. You know, so many of us find ourselves caught in a gap, a lull, a place of feeling incomplete, uncertain or indecisive. We want the quick fix. We want all the answers now.
No coincidence that Prescott’s Gap year from college fell into that same “in between-ness”; that need of a waiting period; space for inward discovery and discernment in looking forward to life’s next chapter.
Webster’s definition of “gap is “unfilled space”.
Well if truth doesn’t speak there! We all face a gap in our lives; that unsettled, unfilled, unpredictable space. It may be that space of uncertainty of what’s next? Why am I doing this? What direction should I be going? What does it all mean?
We sort of stand in the valley of waiting and wondering…
It seems we must embrace the gift that comes in the waiting and resting period; that this open season should not be viewed as a negative; that our “unfilled space” not feel lonely or wrong. Untimely answers can be a gift of grace. The unfilled spaces are left for only God to fill. We are always so quick to want to fill up the empty spaces, the pauses, the awkward, silent moments.
But why? Reflection and pause are healthy and needed.
Our fast-paced, over industrialized, technologically advanced world wants to fill the empty spaces and quickly. We are a quick fix, immediate gratification society. Waiting is boring to us. Yet God’s abundance awaits us in the gaps of emptiness and moments of pause.
The fast pace to a quick fix only leaves us more anxious, unsettled and without peace. So, we must begin to pause, reflect and fill our gaps seeking God. Looking back on Little Prescott’s Gap year before college, it is clear it was a year giving into exploration and Mystery, time to discover without all the distractions, asking questions like, Who am I? Who is God?
It took age 40 and cancer for me to begin to pause and reflect, posing similar questions that may seem obvious to some. Recently, I had the opportunity to read a journal that my youngest son wrote while in Windy Gap, a retreat area for youth participating in Young Life. This particular year he was injured in his JV football game. What we thought was a mild injury needed surgery. Over the weekend his plans were to head to Windy Gap near Asheville NC with his Young Life group. He was excited about zip lining and all the activities that young boys of 14 and 15 do. His injury prevented him from participating. Recognizing his inabilities at the time, he chose to retreat and get away from the crowd of kids. While all of his friends and girlfriend were off engaged in the many active plans this camp had to offer, Branyon sat resting under a tree journaling a letter of gratitude to God.
Throughout the 4 pages, his take away was amazingly insightful. He captured something similar to what I captured when I discovered for the first time God’s whisper in my own life while being outside with nature during cancer. He said, “While some people may be walking by me wondering what am I doing or why I am sitting alone writing under this tree; well, what they think doesn’t really matter because I am seeing that this is a chance for me to become closer to you, God, and reflect on the weekend, soaking up all you have created. Your creation is beautiful in this place. Everyone is blinded to all of this. While running around, having fun with all the activities isn’t bad, its just what I am able to see is your amazing works so big yet so subtle…and it all goes unnoticed. You Lord, you, just sit back and watch. Giving up our phones may have been difficult and a little hard but it was one of the best things that we did. Separating from social media and just bonding together in your name is unreal. For me to have the opportunity to just sit back and watch God’s creation is so much more than I thought it would be. It’s an experience of a lifetime.”
I wish I could share all the joy that Branyon spoke through the 4 written pages of his journal. He expressed the excitement it brought him to just see the smiles on everyone’s faces as they enjoyed each other and the fellowship there.
Branyon grasped what God intended… the gift of spirit; to experience pure inward joy of Presence. Branyon grasped the fact we all run around aimlessly in life, “blind” to God in our midst.
I experienced a similar Aha moment in my time of forced stillness. Branyon was standing in a valley or gap of uncertainty. He was forced to pause, as was I in the midst of an illness. God filled the gap as he sat underneath that tree.
In the pauses, in the gaps, God shows up. He has something to say in our gap time. He is able to clear away the mud from our eyes, bringing into clear view what it is He intends for us to see.
We can all affirm that what He has to share in the gap is always life giving, full of beauty and awe.
He fills up, never depletes.
Being in the gap is a welcoming pause, a season of stillness, a welcome interruption.
I am in awe to witness the beautiful mystery of God’s grace showing up over and over again. Had I not experienced such intimate companionship over the years with such a Divine friend, I don’t know that I could quite capture the theme that continues to repeat itself… The Gap.
God is speaking inside the empty places.
Over the years, I’ve read similar journal entries from both my boys as well as my own entries and I can’t help but recognize a commonality… God’s grace poured out inside the gaps of our lives.
My prayer has always been that somehow, someway my boys would experience a glimpse of God, causing them to pause and look in the way of His direction because what I believe is once we catch a glimpse of God, embrace the pauses as a gift, life changes at a depth of understanding that sticks with us and guides us. I believe the best way to meet God is in the gaps; the yet filled spaces where we just don’t have all the answers. It’s inside those moments of complete uncertainty that He shows up.
“There is a God-shaped hole in all of us waiting to be filled.”
~ Blaise Pascal