Please find my teaching notes below to the message, “Liminal Space- How to Deal with the In-Between Places.”
We are celebrating graduates this weekend!! It’s a great accomplishment to complete high school or a degree in college. But all of us have “graduated” from something recently, or will so, and the question we’ve all asked or been asked in these types of situations is: NOW WHAT??
“Now what?” is an interesting place. You’re not where you used to be, but you’re not yet where you’re going, and may not even know where or what that is, what the future holds.
YOU FIND YOURSELF IN AN “IN-BETWEEN” PLACE! And all of us have found ourselves or will find ourselves there sooner or later. Like our graduates, you graduate from school but now you’re on the threshold of something else. Or you begin a new job or career, or when we move to a new city. Liminal space occurs in our lives when we transition into marriage or into divorce. It also occurs for those whose health changes leading to a different stage of life.
IT’S CALLED LIMINAL SPACE! Latin word “limens” which means THRESHOLD. Franciscan writer Richard Rohr calls it “the ultimate teachable space.”
It’s a place of TRANSITION. It’s a place of TEMPTATION. It’s a place of TRUSTING. It’s a place of letting go of what you’ve been holding onto and reaching for something else…
IT FEELS LIKE THIS! Pic of Trapeze artist between two bars! Have you ever felt that way? Feel that way right now?? I’ve been there!!
In the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11, the writer shares about many people who experienced liminal spaces in their lives as they pursued God’s ultimate purposes. NO ONE IS EXEMPT OF EXPERIENCING A LIMINAL SPACE AS WE SEEK GOD’S PURPOSE!
NOTE: Heb. 11:8-9 8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents.”
LIMINAL SPACE IS A PLACE OF TRANSITION 8 “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him…”
Isaac Asimov- “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
Transitions can be promising! I’m sure Abraham was excited about new possibilities, new potential, a new place to live. He was “leaving home and going to another land…”
The “going to” part is exciting! I remember as a kid “going to” Disney World! Much later in life, “going to” Colorado to hunt! In just over a month, “going to” northern India…
GOING TO is promising. WHY?? Because we get to dream about what you’re going to experience, or what you want or hope the experience will be!
IF YOU’RE IN A TRANSITION RIGHT NOW DREAM ABOUT WHAT CAN BE, WHAT YOU HOPE FOR! It’s says, “By FAITH…” Abraham was “going to…”
Heb. 11:1 “Faith is the confidence that WHAT WE HOPE FOR WILL ACTUALLY HAPPEN; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
In the LIMINAL SPACE where you’re transitioning, HAVE FAITH AND BE HOPEFUL!
Transitions not only promising, but can be painful! During labor (great term for it!) the deceleration phase when the baby is passing lower into the pelvis and deeper into the birth canal, is also called the transition. And, in mothers with no anesthesia, it’s often punctuated by vomiting and uncontrollable shaking. These symptoms can be frightening to watch, but they’re a part of normal birth, and they signal that the first state is almost completed. Second stage is when baby is actually born.
There’s nothing more hopeful than having a baby, but “having” it doesn’t happen without some pain! Going from one place to a new place will not be without some pain- especially as you “push on” through some challenges to get to where God wants you to be!
A study of Abraham’s journey reveals many painful challenges he had to push through in order to experience the new “land” that God gave him. He had issues with family, he “birthed” an “Ishmael”, he almost sacrificed his own son…
IF YOU’RE IN A TRANSITION THEN YOU’RE ABOUT TO BIRTH SOMETHING NEW- PUSH THROUGH THE CHALLENGES TO SEE THE NEW REALIZED!
LIMINAL SPACE IS A PLACE OF TEMPTATION “He went without knowing where he was going…”
According to Richard Rohr, a liminal space, the place of transition, waiting, and not knowing is… “a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.”
Abraham and Lot choosing which direction they would go… on one side was the well watered plains and on the other side, barren desert! I’m sure Abraham was tempted… He let Lot choose…
In the liminal space we can be tempted by what LOOKS GOOD! It looks good, but is it what’s best? Someone said, “You have to say no to some good things in order to experience the best things!
Sometimes “good things” can actually end up being a bad thing! JUST ASK LOT! Sodom and Gomorah “looked good” but ended up being a very bad place for his family…. What looks good TO you may not be good FOR you!
Early in our lives we almost made a “looked good” decision, and were tempted to move to Florida! What were we thinking!!
WHEN YOU’RE TEMPTED BY WHAT LOOKS GOOD, BE WILLING TO SAY NO BELIEVING THE BEST WILL COME! In the desert Abraham flourished exponentially!
In the liminal space we can be tempted to LEAVE GOD behind! WHY? Because the place of “not knowing” is such a stressful and impatient place! God had promised to give Abraham and Sarah a son, but then it didn’t happen, she grew older, still no son, so they took matters into their own hands! Ishmael and Isaac have been in contention ever since!
WHEN YOU’RE TEMPTED TO LEAVE GOD AND TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS, HOLD ONTO WHAT GOD HAS PROMISED!
In the “liminal space”- the mid-air experience, it’s the only sure thing you can hold onto to!
Abraham “didn’t know where he was going” but he did KNOW WHAT GOD HAD PROMISED!
LIMINAL SPACE IS A PLACE OF TRUSTING “And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith…”
David Jensen- “I’m going to show the courage not to retreat back to what was and I’m going to be patient not to jump into what I think ought to be, but I’m going to stand in liminal space. I am going to trust that as I stand on the threshold it is pregnant with the possibilities of God.”
As you read Heb. 11 it repeatedly says of people listed there, “BY FAITH…”
Heb. 11:6 “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
Remember faith is the confidence that what you hope for will happen as it relates to God’s purposes. And you would think “Geez that sounds impossible because sometimes I don’t have faith for that!”
But the KEY in that verse is the “seek him” part!
In the LIMINAL space TRUSTING GOD IS SEEKING HIM!
Abraham “lived there by faith” which means he constantly sought God out for direction, clarification, confirmation.
It’s in the LIMINAL spaces, the in-between places that seeking God is so critical because that’s how trust is built. With each step away from where you’ve been and towards where you’re going, it’s all “by faith!” Because you just don’t know, you don’t have the whole picture yet.
ILL. Student athletes at CSU saying what they were going to do next…
We all know that doesn’t happen automatically- it happens because we SEEK IT OUT! We SEEK GOD FOR EACH STEP! Jesus- “Go to PREPARE A PLACE for you… ”
Don’t get ahead, the place may not be prepared yet!!
In the LIMINAL space TRUSTING GOD by STAYING THE COURSE!
ILL. “The Patriot” scene… “Stay course Benjamin!”
That’s about trusting in, believing in, the outcome you’re hoping for. For graduates, that’s staying on course for the vocation you’re believing for. For someone who’s gone through a divorce and you’re in that in-between place, it’s trusting that you can have a great relationship. For the person who just moved to Denver, it’s staying committed to the fresh start you’re hoping for!
It’s a step at a time. It’s seeking God in those steps. It’s staying the course towards the thing God has promised you; what you’re hoping for, believing BY FAITH will happen!
LIMINAL SPACES are a transition, they’re places of temptation, they’re places where you’ve got to trust God!
They’re places of peace and places of pain. Places of hurt and places of hope. Places of regret and places of revelation…
But if you’re in a LIMINAL space, an in-between place, KNOW THIS- you can’t stay there and you can’t go back, YOU CAN ONLY GO FORWARD!
YOU LET GO AND YOU LOOK AHEAD…. BY FAITH!
ILL. Cayla- “Catch me Daddy!” And I always did!
GOD WILL CATCH YOU TOO!
SHOW THE TRAPEZE ARTIST…
ASK: If you’re in a LIMINAL space, an in-between place RAISE YOUR HAND… Want to pray for you!
Going to sing a song about God being faithful…
“Standing on this mountaintop, looking just how far we’ve come. Knowing that for every step You were with us… You are faithful…”
(c) 2014, Terry Broadwater. For personal use only. All other uses contact firstname.lastname@example.org.