Today one of my favorite authors, Kat Armstrong, launches her latest book, The In-Between Place. Kat is a powerful voice in our generation. She’s an innovative ministry leader and sought-after communicator who holds a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the author of No More Holding Back and The In-Between Place. She and her husband, Aaron, have been married for eighteen years and live in Dallas, Texas, with their son, Caleb. They attend Dallas Bible Church, where Aaron serves as the lead pastor.
I read her most recent book, The In-Between Place, and wrote this endorsement: Sometimes a place in the Bible’s narrative becomes like a character with a voice of its own. Shechem/Sychar is such a place. Dinah was raped in Shechem, and Jesus met “the woman at the well” there. In Kat’s new book she takes readers to this city in Samaria and guides them through a literary, religious, and geographical look at how God has used this locale and its people to reveal his sovereignty and grace. Armstrong’s book is full of amusing anecdotes, astute observations, and life-changing applications.
Here’s an interview with Kat, who was born in Houston, Texas, where she says the humidity ruins her curls.
Kat, welcome back! Let’s talk about your newest book, The In-Between Place. What inspired you to write it?
The In-Between Place was born when Ronnie (my Holy Land tour guide) said, “We are standing in modern-day Samaria. You’ll remember, it’s the setting for the story of the woman at the well. And now we’ll hear from Rev. Dr. Jackie Roese about Dinah’s story from Genesis 34.” One casual transition statement from our Israel tour guide, Ronnie, about the Holy Land site visit for the day to our Bible teacher, Rev. Dr. Jackie Roese, reoriented the way I read the Samaritan woman’s conversation with Jesus in John 4. How did I not see it sooner? Both women’s stories have Samaria as their setting, and I think there is divine purpose in the places and spaces God revisits in the Scriptures. I believe God redeems broken places into sacred spaces. I have this wild, audacious dream that people will read The In-Between Place and be filled with hope that Jesus is in our messy middle places.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In the book you compare and contrast Dinah’s story (Genesis 34) with the woman at the Well’s story (John 4). Can you share some observations you make in the book about these two women’s stories?
I take the whole book to answer this question, but here are just a few of my observations.
1. While Dinah is the first named daughter in the Bible, and her experience represents evil’s accessibility to even the most prestigious of women, the nameless woman at the well in John 4 represents all women, all Gentiles, and ultimately, all people.
2. In Dinah’s story we meet her father’s landlord, Hamor the Hivite, who was the “region’s chieftain” (Gen. 34:2); and second we meet Hamor’s son, Shechem. The saying “like father, like son” rings true for these two. Hamor and Shechem, both princes of terror, stand in sharp contrast with the main man in John 4, Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Whereas Hamor and Shechem gave their town a bad name with their intimidation, Jesus, the one who knows all our names, ushers in harmony and safety with his presence.
3. When Dinah casually ventured out to connect with her friends, the mood was easy and laid back. Just another day in the neighborhood. But while Dinah was minding her own business, Shechem was hunting his prey. We get the sense from the story that we need to hide from his wandering eye and protect ourselves from his looming presence. Compare that to the nameless Samaritan woman at the well who encountered the Prince of Peace. The Samaritan woman was also minding her own business, but when Jesus sat down near the well, his posture spoke to his vulnerability. Our Savior was a safe stranger to approach. Unlike Shechem, Jesus just wanted to talk.
4. Dinah’s voice was never heard in all of the Scriptures. Never. Her perspective was never acknowledged. On the other hand, Jesus not only gave the Samaritan woman a voice, he also then gave her an audience to proclaim her truth—and the eternal truth that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
5. Dinah’s story ends with genocide, and we can’t help but close the chapter disappointed that there was no redemption in the ending. In sharp contrast, the Samaritan woman’s story ends with joy and many in the town being saved.
What would you say to someone struggling to find hope in their in-between place?
If you don’t have the energy, hope, or faith to follow Jesus, take heart: he comes to you. Maybe you are working your very first job, restarting school to finish your degree, becoming a first-time mom, or beginning a new life after a major loss. Although you might not be able to see your way out, and your determination might have been knocked out of you in your fall, Jesus can climb into that pit with you and lift you up with his mighty power. You don’t even have to make the first move; he will. I know this because of Jesus’s conversation recorded in John 4 with the Samaritan woman at the well.
Anything else you want to tell my readers?
Friends, it’s excellent. Order from Amazon.