Betwixt and Between

Have you ever read a book in instalments? Perhaps one of those serialised novels the newspapers occasionally publish. The first couple of chapters are enough to get you hooked, and then you have to wait for the next edition of the news to keep on track with the rest of the story. In the meantime (if the book is any good), your mind is constantly tumbling over about what will happen next and how the tale will unfold. It’s the same with a cliff-hanger series on the television. Many of you reading this might remember the fuss over “who shot JR?” or any of the Doctor Who endings since 1963 when the series started. They leave us betwixt and between, excited by what we know, but alive with anticipation about how the story will move along.
Now let me ask you a question – the last time you took the bread and the cup of communion, did it cross your mind that this was a “betwixt and between” kind of moment? As we hear the words “for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” we can, in my experience, focus completely on the phrase the Lord’s death, and mentally mute the other phrase – until He comes. One is history and easy to frame in our minds. But the other is future, and from when we were young we have been trained to put less confidence in things of the future – not to count our chickens, so to speak.
However, uncertainty about the future only pertains to the temporal things of the earth: the fact is that we can’t predict the outcomes of our own plans and endeavours, and there is always the potential for the unexpected. Jesus used examples of this truth in His teachings.  He warned against selfishly presuming that wealth could offer security, since “this very night your life might be demanded from you.” (Luke 12:16-21). And citing what seems to have been a recent “industrial accident” (where a tower fell on eighteen unsuspecting victims) Christ taught that sudden tragedy was not an indicator of our spiritual condition (Luke 13:4).
While human plans on earth might be subject to a wise degree of flexibility, the future as it pertains to God’s plans is different. God’s promises are sure and unfailing. When we take communion we affirm our place betwixt and between two of the world’s defining events: the Crucifixion and Christ’s return in glory. Both were promised by God in Christ, and both carry the full assurance of the Father’s hand in history. The Church Age is not without end, not without focus, and not without hope. Christ will come and things will change.
That makes a difference. The difference is that with a cliff-hanger, we don’t know how it will all end up. Will the hero survive? Will the bad guy get what he deserves? God in His grace has given us enough of a glimpse in His Word to know with confidence that the story ends well. The future is nothing to be afraid of for those who are in Christ, for those who gather at His Table. “He who testifies to these things says ‘yes I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 21:20).

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Dr Terry Boyle serves as Pastor for Insight for Living UK. His ministry involves teaching a weekend radio programme, hosting the weekday Insight for Living broadcast, helping with issues that come in from listeners, and providing a personal and local approach to Chuck Swindoll’s ministry.

Terry was born in Windsor, England. He moved to the United States in 1981. Although he began his professional life as a biochemist, Terry holds a Th.M. in Pastoral Ministry and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Terry served as senior pastor of Skillman Bible Church in Dallas until he and his family moved back to the UK in 2007, to take on the role of pastor for Insight for Living United Kingdom.

Terry and his wife Rose Ann have been married for twenty seven years, and they have three grown children: Hannah, Emily, and Terence.