Vietnam. This is one of the first words I remember hearing my mother speak. I clearly recall other words, too, that all had to do with Vietnam.
“It’s a very bad war.”
“That’s where Dad is right now.”
“Yes, he’s fighting there.”
“He’ll come home as soon as he can.”
In the first decade of my life, Vietnam was in the news, and it was Dad’s work through the late 1960s and early 1970s. During his time in the U.S. Marines, he carried out orders in combat missions, administration, supply, and support. Vietnam was discussed daily and I was constantly anxious because of it.
Most memorable was our move to San Diego where new Marines were trained. In school I became friends with kids who were refugees from Vietnam. They were boys and girls my age who had fled a homeland ravaged by war. I was fascinated by their lives because they lived in a very in between place. They were living in between an evacuation from their country of origin and a future they hoped to build in an unfamiliar place.
There is a theme of in between-ness repeated throughout the New Testament. Over and over, we’re reminded of Old Testament stories, including the exodus from Egypt. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were set free from slavery and given grace to live in their wilderness wanderings—a place in between their former lives as slaves and their future lives in the Promised Land. The Israelites were set apart from all other ethnic groups and God miraculously provided for them in very public way. The Bible also tells us that it gave God pleasure to do so.
God has foreknowledge of every single person He chooses to call to Himself. This is a mystery that is never fully explained. Instead, the Bible focuses on what we’re supposed to do with the knowledge of God’s foreknowledge: obey Him; serve Him; get in on what He is doing in the world as His will is done “as in heaven, so on earth.” We should be patterned and shaped after Jesus, the true image of God.
God never guaranteed your safety while you live in the in between. But He picked you and provides everything needed for your mission while journeying to the Promised Land.