Not long ago, while riding in the car with my husband, my youngest son posed a curious question. He asked, “What is an angel-omie?” My husband contemplated his question and grappled with the origin of the inquiry. My son directed his father back to the song playing on the radio and then he understood. Chris Tomlin was singing, “the God of Angel armies…” A-ha!
We pose similar questions to our Father. We need him to make sense of our relationship struggle, health challenge, or deep disappointment. Our hope rests in our belief that God can, like my husband, answer our questions and breathe understanding into us. God takes the sacrifice of our weariness, the surrender of our will, and gives us hope in exchange.
I have a season of life, filled with weariness, that God redeemed. When I first meet people, and share about my family (which was touched by the aforementioned season) they often say, “there’s quite a gap in your children’s ages.” (Side note-I always wonder if they think I didn’t already know that!). This observation always requires a response, even when I’d rather not engage. That’s a part of my story I call “between the dashes.” That chapter of my story includes pain…repeated pain. But it was also during that season that I completely surrendered to Jesus.
The years-between the dashes-began when I was served divorce papers. In a single moment, my world began spinning. A desperation and deep sadness, one I had felt before, returned in great force. I found myself face down, begging Jesus for breath. In a blink of an eye I was a single mother to a 3 1/2 and 2-year-old.
Begin my “between the dashes” journey–my years between. You are familiar with those years–years between wounding and healing, diagnosis and remission, depression and freedom.
It so happens that my favorite character from the bible epitomizes the journey of “years between”. She spent 12 years in this season. We don’t learn her name, but we become familiar with her condition.
Her story is found in Mark 5:25-29.
A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.
In the Message version (shared above), I am intrigued by the information shared between the dashes. If the information-between the dashes-were removed, it would seriously reduce the impact of her story. I confess–I am sometimes tempted to edit out what’s between the dashes in my life. I have a growing awareness that His story through my life is limited when I opt to withhold the “years between.”
She had “tried everything”-which included-lots of doctors and money. Her condition led her to try, in her own strength, to find a solution. Her “years between” included a great deal of loneliness, hopelessness, and disappointment.
Like the woman in Mark 5, I had done things my own way and exhausted all my options. My hope had expired. It was time for me to reach up to God, and out to others. She was alone in her tent. I was alone in my parenting-far from family. She made a decision to go into the crowd, and risk exposure. I had to open up to my church family. As I cried out to others and up to Heaven, I believed God heard me. She believed if she just touched the hem of his garment, she would also be healed.
My years between the dashes were filled with surrender and confession. I had not succeeded at “fixing” my own life. I needed the Lord’s help, through the encouragement and fellowship of others–to be refreshed by the power of the Word.
Although the woman in Mark 5 had been isolated for 12 years, once she received healing, don’t you imagine she was in the center of her community-sharing her story of healing? Yes, even the part included between the dashes. It mattered. His power was revealed through her whole story.
We all have “years between” stories. We can keep the stories to ourselves, or we can share with others. I dare you to share yours–it may help someone make sense of an “angel-omie.”