Between: Lift up your eyes [Beyond Sunday]

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord  in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

When we find ourselves between an ending and a new beginning, we are in a liminal space. All of us pass through these seasons in our lives. They can be places of incredible growth, but sometimes we struggle to embrace liminal spaces because they come with uncertainty, anxiety, and very few answers.

Most of what we know– the routines, tools, and habits we rely on– breakdown. To successfully navigate liminal spaces (or to just come through them unscathed), we have to lean into three spiritual shifts. We must move from a posture of Knowing to Unknowing, from Advocating to Attending, and from Striving to Surrendering. Susan Beaumont does an excellent job of unpacking these in her book How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going.

Briefly, moving from Knowing to Unknowing means accept that all the skills and expertise that got us where we are may not take us further. We must bring all the best of knowledge and wisdom but remain open to questions we can’t answer alone.

Moving from Advocating to Attending involves releasing our need to take a position and fight for it. We must accept we cannot “power through” everything. Sometimes we must simply be present to the moment and allow it to teach us.

Moving from Striving to Surrendering calls us to trust God more than our efforts. We must be honest about our present and not be driven by either our past or what we think the future is “supposed” to be.

  • Read the story of Abraham learning to trust God’s promises in Genesis 15:1-18.
    • What promises has God made to you?
    • Describe a time you had trouble believing they would come true?
    • How has God reassured you in the past?
  • Read Philippians 3:7-4:1. Paul, amid his own struggles, writes to the Philippians to encourage them to trust in God.
    • Think back on a time you were struggling or in a liminal space. Write a letter to your past self about why they should trust in God.
  • With children play, God is Bigger Than That.
    • If they are young, invite them to name the biggest thing they can see, they’ve ever seen, and they can imagine. To each excitedly answer, “God is bigger than that!” and ask what that means to them.
    • If they are older, ask what the biggest, hardest, or most frightening thing is for them right now. Encourage them to describe it in detail. Then ask, what would it mean for God to be bigger than that?

Between: Grieve what you’ve lost [Beyond Sunday]

Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?”    For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Ecclesiastes 7:10

Liminal spaces are the places between what was and what will be. If we are engaged, we are no longer single, but not yet married. When we are learning to drive, we are no longer forbidden from using a car, but we’re not a fully licensed driver either.

Everyone passes through liminal spaces in their lives. They challenge us and can help us grow, but the first step is often grief. As we leave one phase of our life, there will be possessions, habits, even relationships we must leave behind to enter the next stage. If we hold tight to old hurts or try to keep repeating bygone days, we risk getting stuck.

The wilderness of Sinai (or Sin) was a liminal space for the ancient Israelites. They were no longer slaves in Egypt, but they had not yet inherited the promised land of Canaan. The unknown around them and ahead of them is overwhelming, and, in Exodus 16, some begin to long for their old life in Egypt. To eventually cross the Jordan, they must grieve the familiar patterns of that past and let them go.

  • Read the story of the Israelites (Exodus 16)
    • Compare it to how Jesus dealt with His time in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13)
  • Reflect on what you from your past needs to be grieved and released.
    • Is there any anger you harbor?
    • Are there relationships that have ended?
    • Do you have habits that no longer help you?
    • Are you struggling with a change in your life?
  • Write a letter or create an image of these things. Pray as dig a small hole and bury it. Ask God to help you grieve and let go.
  • With children: Invite them to draw something or someone that they miss. Hold a small funeral for the drawing and pray together. Ask God to hold our sadness and help us try new things.