In tribute to our youngest daughter who left early (March 2019) to be in the middle of the Heavenlies.
Hearing the patter of her small feet, I glanced at the glowing clock. Five a.m. it read. Instinctively I slid over to the center of the bed knowing that our little morning visitor was on her way. She was too big for pajamas with feet in, so she claimed; and with lowered night temperatures and a nightly ritual of kicking off her blankets, she often made her way to warm up her last hours of sleep in bed with her parents.
Feigning sleep, I felt her cold, little body snuggle under the covers beside me. Twisting and turning she tried to find the necessary position to fall back to sleep. Finding no success, she lay for awhile and then realized her father wasn’t sleeping.
Patting me on the back, she said in a loud whisper, “Hi, Dad!”
I answered her back, “Hi, Siri.”
Then she patted me again and said, “I like to be in the middle.” With that she began crawling across to claim that desired spot. Sliding down beneath the covers, she snuggled between her parents. In the safety and warmth, she quickly fell asleep and her peaceful breathing conveyed sleep-filled trust.
I like to be in the middle. Those words reflected within as I lay in the morning darkness. Our six year old always wants to be in the middle. Whether in playing or riding the bus or washing dishes or making popcorn, she wants to be in the middle of all the activity. She wants to be in the middle of people’s lives, enjoying and sharing, giving and receiving. That is where she finds joy.
As I lay there with sleep eluding me, my thoughts went to Jesus who wants to be in the middle. No matter the circumstance of people, he wants to be in the middle of the activity. A wedding party at Cana; visiting with the two sisters at Bethany; feeding hungry crowds that hung on His every word; among the poor and maimed and forgotten. He always wants to be in the middle. To share with people, all people, their fears and dreams, their hopes and hurts.
I may not want him there. There are other forces pressing to capture that middle arena of my life. They pushed Jesus from the middle of life in Palestine as well; away from the loyalties and faith of the people; away from His offer of the abundant life. They pushed Him to a hill called Calvary, but even there the Scriptures record: “…they crucified Him and two others, one on either side of him with Jesus in the middle.” (John 19:18). And there His word was, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43).
John records in the Gospel following the resurrection, “Jesus came and stood right in the middle of them…” (John 20:19, 26). And Jesus promises, “For where two or three of you are gathered in my name, there am I in the middle.” (Matthew 18:20). Jesus’ desire is to be in the middle of our lives. He wants not to be confined to the extremities of a Sunday morning, or a desperation prayer, or an annual Easter celebration. It is as though He is saying to each of us, “I like to be in the middle. The middle of your home, your job, your family. The middle of your dreams, your loves, your yearnings.”
I like to be in the middle. As I lay with the morning light beginning to peek around the window-shade, I thanked God for little girls who like to be in the middle, and for Jesus who centers His life in the midst of His people.