An ellipsis, a literary term, is the notation of an omission of superfluous information. It is the set of three dots put between two pieces of significant information to show that the stuff in between was not worth writing.
Life can feel like an ellipsis sometimes. At least, that has been my experience of late.
There are those moments in life, the months (or perhaps even years) tucked between major life events, that appear as nothing more than a hiatus separating life’s chapters. It is these moments that feel they would best be represented by those three little dots instead of the words it would take to tell them. They are seemingly superfluous phrases in the midst of an otherwise meaningful quote.
In Africa, I had a task, a mission, a purpose. It was a part of the story worth telling. My days were significant, and it was easy to see that. It was an exciting chapter in the story.
Come January, I will be thrust back into a situation of obvious significance. I will once again find myself in the academy, working toward my PhD. Life will again have a task, perhaps the most challenging to date.
But for the time being, I live in the ellipsis between the two. Not only do I feel as though this period of months would get left out of the quote, but I find myself wanting to skip over it as well. With no obvious task of importance in front of me, I am tempted to feel there is no task at all. Without the concrete, tangible tasks it is often easy to overlook the more abstract goal, and I find myself in that very spot.
Yet, that is nothing more than an illusion. It is a sleight of hand the enemy plays to pull us out of the game. If we are not careful, we begin to see the task as the goal, and these things cannot be interchanged. If we make our specific tasks the ultimate goal, then we are doing them for the wrong reason. And when they are accomplished, we are left looking for the next thing we can do, perhaps something bigger and more elaborate. The tasks become self-fulfilling; they become rungs in a ladder or notches in our belt as we try to better ourselves through our tasks.
What is more, between these tasks, we are left in momentary insignificance. We are left in a spot where we feel we have no real worth. It is indeed a lie, brought on by this intellectual shell game of the enemy. Like a tiny ball hidden under one of three shells, we lose sight of our real goal, and therefore, feel we have none at all. It renders us ineffective and of no gain to God’s kingdom. Nonetheless, we find ourselves in an ellipsis, thinking we have nothing we can do of any worth until the next big task.
My goal is not seminary, that is simply the next task big task that will help me achieve my goal. And what is that goal? Simply put, it is to glorify my God. It is to make his name known, and it is to witness to his power and majesty. It is to worship him above all else. Seminary is merely a step towards better accomplishing my goal.
In your life the next big task may be something completely different. It may be family or raising children. It may be service in your church, pursuing another degree, or moving to Africa. Make sure the task does not become the goal.
In the meantime, in the ellipsis, there is significance.