Living In Between {Hope & Reality}

Prayer seems to be the theme of the day around here.

  • I started a book entitled A Praying Life by Paul Miller a couple weeks ago. {Yup, the one that called me out as a cynic}
  • I jumped off the cliff into a project that will only be accomplished by prayer (I just.do.not have the skill set to accomplish this big idea that God sketched out inside my head).
  • And a dear friend is battling life and death, and I can’t do anything more {or anything less} than pray. Pray. Pray. Pray.

But in order to tell you the story of the book that’s changing my prayer life, I have to tell you another story. A story of loss, and panic, and prayer…


“Hey Paul, where are Sarah and Jack?” We were crowded up against a few thousand of D.C.’s science & technology-minded students, parents, and teachers all jammed tight in expo-booth gridlock.

Paul, surprised by my voice, squinted at me from behind a shiny, white, futuristic model of an electric vehicle. “What do you mean?” he asked innocently, but his darting eyes betrayed his lips.

“Paul, did you lose my children?” I retorted with a mocking smile.

My brother-in-law stopped in his tracks and stared me down with a dead-pan face. Sarah and Jack were missing.

Now I didn’t panic {right away}.  We had only been ten feet away at the adjacent booth when I last laid eyes on both of my two youngest children, and that hadn’t been more than 3 minutes earlier.  But the cursory scan of the neighboring booths, the quick run around the aisle, and the dispatched aunt, uncle, big brother, and even the man in the red Pennsylvania State School of Engineering polo shirt turned up no signs of our sister-brother combo. Panic lurked like a leopard in a dark corner.

This is the scenario playing through my mind as I read chapter 21 of A Praying Life.  Paul Miller was sharing how His daughter, Kim, had been born blue and despite doctor’s assurances, never fully recovered. He would never receive a clear diagnosis or even a hopeful prognosis, just a baby girl with a certain devastating mark of disability. He, “lived in the middle, in the desert, holding on to hope that Kim could somehow be normal, yet facing the reality of her disabilities. It was a difficult world in which to live” (p. 180).

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And that’s just how I felt that day in the exp center – wedged in between what my heart urgently hoped for {the return of my two youngest children} and the reality of my situation {they were lost}. Like Paul Miller, “every part of me wanted to close the gap between hope and reality. [I] would do anything not to live [here] in the desert” (p.181). But this is exactly my feet were planted: in the in-between. In between Hope and Reality.

I got to thinking. Isn’t this where all feet eventually land? At least, all feet traveling toward Emaus in search of answers to life’s biggest questions. Kicking up dust in the middle of the road? Holding onto hope that what certainly is will definitely not remain, and yet facing the suffering reality of what stares us in the face?

We face a nurse holding out a disabled new-born babe.

We face a a sea of one thousand unfamiliar faces.

We face a dying friend, a daunting project, our own lurking leopard.

“The hardest part about being in the desert is that there is no way out. You don’t know when it will end. There is no relief in sight” (p184). But it’s here, in the desert, in the middle of Hope and Reality, in the in-between, that we are most apt to do anything of lasting worth. That we are most likely to fall to our knees in prayer. God is not only with us in the desert, He designed the desert.

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Remember Joseph in Egypt’s desert jail? Moses shepherding the Midian desert sheep? The Israelites wandering, David fleeing Saul, and even Jesus facing Satan after forty famished days in the desert. “The still, dry air of the desert brings the sense of helplessness that is so crucial to the spirit of prayer. You come face-to-face with your inability to live, to have joy, to do anything of lasting worth” (p.185).

Life threatened to crush me in that expo center.  Every part of me wanted to close the gap between Hope and Reality. I would do anything not to live in that desert. And yet, facing the lurking leopard brought me to my knees. I could panic. Or I could pray.

Others scrambled the aisles to locate my Sarah & Jack. I planted myself at ground zero and did nothing more {and yet nothing less} than pray:

Lord, help me hold onto Hope, but the reality is that I don’t know where my children are right now. In Hope, help me believe against Hope that You will bring them home again, and that I will willingly accept what “home” may mean to You. I don’t care how hard it sometimes seems to be their Mother. I just want that chance again. I want my babies back.

Like Paul Miller, “this desert life sanctified me” (p.185). OK. So it was more like a desert 30-minutes, but I distinctly recall kicking up dust right there in the middle of the expo center. It no longer mattered that Sarah and Jack embarrassed me with more outlandish antics than Tom and Jerry. It no longer mattered that I couldn’t keep Sarah’s hair brushed or Jack’s knees out of holey jeans. It didn’t matter that I felt like Mommy Inadequate more often that I care to admit. I just finally wanted what Jesus wanted for me – to be a Mother who leans into Him, every minute, of every hour, of every day, no matter where my feet may land. Whether I’m standing in an over-crowded convention hall, or holding tight to a dear friend’s praying hands, or jumping off the cliff into the unknown of a new adventure, or just longing for a better life, may I lean hard into Christ, linger long in His presence, live life abundant in between Hope and Reality.

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Stay with me friends. By God’s grace, we will walk through how this book is transforming my panic into prayer. Maybe even yours, too?

{Yes, we found them – at the over-sized orange information booth that I haphazardly pointed out upon our entrance into the 3 million square miles of convention hall. And Yes, they continue to chase each other around like cat and mouse, but now I more earnestly desire to remain in this space between Christ’s limitless power and my failing strength, this space between Hope and Reality, this in-between called the desert.}

Photo Credits {HERE}

 Q4U: Have you ever landed in the desert? How can we pray for you? 

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