If you go to London and ride the tube (subway), over the loudspeaker at all tube stations, you’ll repeatedly hear the phrase, “Mind the gap.” This announcement refers to the space between the platform and the train–the gap that could be hurtful if a passenger isn’t paying attention. It’s also interesting to think about a gap year, when someone takes a break after high school, before going to college. It can happen such that the year becomes a longer gap and it’s not uncommon for people to find their way in life without attending college.
Gaps can be good, in terms of providing some pause and rest for reflection and thinking about one’s direction and course in life. Gaps can be bad if we let them grow into a permanent state of inactivity and a lulled existence. I’m bringing this to your attention this week because it’s kind of like a gap week in the United States, the pause after Christmas festivities and before the New Year launch.
In this week, maybe we write our thank you notes for the Christmas presents, finish up year-end stuff, do some cleaning, laundry, complete any lingering work assignments and recover from the holiday sugar, bustle and activities. I appreciate this week and the pause it affords me, so that I have the opportunity to reflect on my year and think about my plans and goals for the upcoming year.
When I think about gaps in the Bible, I can find lots of examples. Here are some gaps for your consideration:
- Jacob had a twenty-year gap between seeing his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him when he left their home. After twenty years, Jacob returned to Esau and had some reconciliation with him. In that twenty-year gap, Jacob got married, had at least eleven kids, acquired a boatload of wealth and established himself as a leader, father, husband and wise wealth manager.
- We also can see a gap in Jesus’ life between His time at the temple in Jerusalem when He was twelve years old and about eighteen years later when He began His earthly ministry. We don’t know much about this gap in Jesus’ life, except that He was a carpenter. I suspect that He looked after His family, helped His mom and settled a lot of stuff so that the launch into His earthly ministry could be effective and focused.
- There was a really difficult gap in David’s life between Samuel anointing him to be king and his actual acceptance into that position. In this gap season for David, he ran for his life for close to twenty years because King Saul was chasing him out of jealousy, fear and insecurity. During these years of flight in David’s life, he wrote many Psalms that tell us about his reliance on God, his honest anguish, dark hopes, struggles to maintain sanity, living in desolate places and candid discouragement.
In thinking about the gap seasons for these men, we can see some helpful applications for our gap times. From Jacob, we can learn that a gap experience can be massively productive and beneficial, if we work hard and stay focused. Jesus’ gap years help us to appreciate the value of doing regular work and looking after familial responsibilities. Finally, we would be wise to imitate the priority that David placed on his relationship with God. David was very raw and honest with God and equally reliant on God for his life, in his gap season.
In this week between Christmas and New Year’s, let’s do what’s practical and necessary, while we remain faithful to God in our daily intimacy. Happy gap week!