Posted by: counselorcarmella | September 15, 2011

Lessons from The Land Between


In the early books of the Old Testament, God spends a lot of time describing the  story of the   Isrealites as they  are delivered from  Egypt, wander around in the desert, and finally enter the Promised Land of Canaan.  We have an awful lot of information about what happens during the “in between” part – the part  between   fleeing from the Pharoah who enslaved them and   when they finally enter the land the Lord has  promised them.  This was the part they didn’t  know they were going to have to face. They knew what they were leaving behind, and knew something of what they were headed towards.  It sounded so wonderful. Freedom and abundance!


A lot would happen to them  as they made their way between places, though.  This part of their journey  would get tough enough  to make them want to turn back and  return to slavery  at times. They didn’t know how to handle “the new normal” they had entered into and wanted to  go back to what was at least familiar. The Isrealites got fed up with their situation. They were uncertain and afraid. There are times when we  feel the exact same way and long for something different, something better.


In his book, “The Land Between:  Finding God During Difficult Transitions,”  (Zondervan, 2010) Jeff Manion says the time the Isrealites spent in this place can teach us a lot about the times in our lives when we feel lost and lonely and uncertain of how to cope. “The Land Between can be profoundly disorienting,” he says. “It also provides the space for God to do some of his deepest work in our lives.”  .. God intends for us to emerge from this land radically reshaped,” Manion says. He explains that this is what God was doing   in the lives of the  Isrealites, as individuals and as a community, between their exit from Egypt and their  entrance into Canaan.


Time  in the wilderness was necessary for the Isrealites to grow and become who they needed to be spiritually.  God, in His wisdom, knew better than to take them straight from the world of   slavery to the world “flowing with milk and honey.” “For the Israelites, their experience in the wasteland was not meant to be a waste,” Manion points out.  “The desert experience is intended to shape, mold, and refine them into a community of trust. The Israelites desperately need the spiritual formation of the desert to become the people of God.” In other words, they weren’t ready  to enterCanaanyet.  There was change and learning that needed to happen first.  They had to learn to trust that God would care for them, to  understand the importance of obedience and moving forward, and to stay focused on what God  was doing rather than the temptations of doing things their way or turning to other gods.      


Like the  wandering Isrealites, we all go through times   of transition and unexpected  change.  Jeff Manion says that these are times of disorientation when we are very vulnerable. Our “wilderness experiences” or “lands between” can be  either times of great spiritual growth or times  that make us bitter and hardened. “While offering us a greenhouse for growth, the Land Between can also be a desert where our faith goes to die if we let it,” he says. 


There is  a  saying that  the shortest way is not always the best way. We can choose whether to be open to what God is teaching us, to trust that He truly has our best interests at heart, or  become angry  and focused on the fact that things aren’t turning out the way we’d hoped they would.  It is natural to be hurt and confused, and God can even use those feelings for our growth.  As long as we are communicating with Him, He  will honor our struggles. He knows we are limited in our understanding  and  the bigger picture. “The habits of the heart that we foster in this space—our responses and reactions—will determine whether the Land Between results in spiritual life or spiritual death,” Manion says. “We choose.”







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