Are you in that place between what was and what will be? This is liminal space — a season of waiting without knowing — and it’s ripe with ambiguity.
The loss of a job, financial distress, serious illness, divorce, a global pandemic, death of a loved one … all these events mess with your sense of security, purpose, and even identity. Not a comfortable place to be, but that’s where you are.
It’s time to make friends with uncertainty. Learning to wait well is key. This is a season of testing. If you humbly accept this experience, if you weather the desert time faithfully, spiritual fruitfulness awaits. Don’t push God away in bitterness or offense. Now’s the time to draw nearer to Him than ever before.
THE LANDSCAPE OF LIMINAL SPACE
The word liminal comes from the Latin word limens, which means threshold. It is the point of crossing or passing over – a desert space where we are asked to engage and, dare-say, celebrate the darkness. This is the place between death and resurrection, the arena of the great struggle.
Will you freak out and cry: “I’m still not being released from this?!” Or will you see potential for a great encounter with God, and whisper in faith: “Father, I know You will strengthen me in this.”
GOD MEETS YOU IN LIMINAL SPACE
God’s love meets you in the depths of death and despair like in no other place.
Remember that Jesus never asks you to face a temptation that He hasn’t. Your Savior has already done what He now asks you to do. Persevering through liminal space is no exception.
Jesus experienced the limbo between death and resurrection – literally! And, He learned the agonizing lesson of waiting in the garden of Gethsemane. Alone. His friends were just a short distance away, but they could not enter into his experience.
WHERE YOUR FRIENDS CAN’T GO — EXCEPT ONE
There’s a place, dear reader, where your friends can’t go with you. It’s only you and Jesus. But this is where you encounter Him in a deeper way than ever before. It’s raw and messy, and this is where God meets you. This is where He strengthens you.
When you belong to Jesus, He shoulders the burden with you. You aren’t waiting alone, you are waiting with Him. He is asking you to wait with Him. Could this even be a privilege?
Jesus knows your future. When you belong to Him, He holds it and is working it for good. He is the God who “gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not”. (Romans 4:17) This includes your time in liminal space when there seems to be nothing at all.
HOW TO WAIT
- Wait with anticipation. Believe that God is at work, even though you can’t see anything.
- Wait actively. Press into your Heavenly Father. Dive into His Word. Cry out to Him in prayer.
- Don’t try to make things happen. Don’t wriggle and squirm. Practice mental stillness.
- Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. (Psalm 37:7). Ask Holy Spirit to show you how to do this.
- Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart. (Psalm 27:14)
- Be real with God. Tell Him your feelings of bitterness or hopelessness. Don’t try to smother your emotions. Let them breathe. Invite Jesus into this space of grieving.
- Confess sin. If you find yourself nurturing feelings of resentment, unbelief, or anger towards God, assume a posture of humility and repentance. He gives grace upon grace.
- Give thanks (when you don’t feel it). God is still faithful, and there are blessings to be found. There’s something about obedience that burns off unbelief and ignites your trust in God.
REJECT THE IDOL OF UNDERSTANDING
Brooke Boon, the founder of Holy Yoga, has spoken frequently on the subject of liminal space, and I credit her with much of my growth in this area. The idolatry of understanding is a stumbling block she warns against. This resonates with me, because like many, I want to know what’s going on. I want to see the end result. I want to walk by sight and not by faith. I need to understand what God is doing.
No I don’t.
Not when that hunger for understanding takes the place of trusting God. Understanding has been an idol in my life at many times, and it’s something of which I am keenly aware. There’s a temptation to look at the circumstances you face and derive the appropriate course of action from what you see, as opposed to what God is saying in His Word.
The Bible identifies three main adversaries that are barriers to a life lived fully in Christ:
- the world (the external influences around you)
- Satan and his fallen angels
- your self (often referred to in Scripture as “the flesh”), which clamors to rule within you
Of these three, you are your own greatest barrier. Trusting in your own understanding is a dreadful mistake when navigating the terrain of liminal space. There are times in life when it’s either understanding or Jesus – you can’t have both. Choose Jesus. He’s the more trustworthy one.
WHY YOUR CARNAL MIND CAN’T BE TRUSTED
Understanding gives you an illusion of safety. If you know something, you can base your actions on your understanding of it. Careful though, because your mind is conditioned by experience, and that leaves some dangerous gaps. The natural mind’s pursuit of knowledge is based in perception rather than reality. The baseline of so-called inner “truth” is constantly shifting, and therefore unreliable.
As Brooke Boon puts it so well: “The truth of your life experience must fall under the sovereignty of the Truth of God’s Word, His nature and His work on the cross. Your thoughts must come under the authority of the Word. Only then will they direct you towards Truth and away from your individual perception.”
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)
REMEMBER THE TRUTH
How have you experienced God’s Truth in your life up until now?
Take a moment, and ask Holy Spirit to show you. Spend some time alone, right now. Invite Him to be your guide as you consider the highs and lows of the past. Allow Him to illuminate God’s faithfulness through the seasons of your life.
When you’ve done this, then come back to reading.
[take a break]
OK, so what were you doing? You were remembering your experiences with God, in light of His Truth. Without this guidance from Him, all you’re left with is flawed human perception. If you view your current circumstances through a lens of fleshly understanding, the consequences can be dire – especially in the desert of liminal space.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO “MOVE THINGS ALONG”
It can be so hard to wait without being able to make things happen. But that’s often what God wants. Make no mistake, this is not passive waiting. Holy waiting takes an expectant posture.
God is always working, even when you can’t see it. He is always doing something new. Press into Him like never before.
REASON TO HOPE — BEYOND THIS LIMINAL SPACE
Liminal space is the threshold. You are on the verge of something good, something new. God will bring the fruit. Delay is not denial. He hears and He is moving.
Make the most of this time and embrace the discipline of waiting. Don’t try to fix or figure things. Accept without bitterness. Allow Jesus to move things along in His timing. Lean on Him, not your own understanding.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind … to declare the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who grieve in Zion, to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
– Jesus (taken from Isaiah 61:1-4 & Luke 4:18)
New life is coming and it’s worth the wait.