We’ve been in this position before.
Almost 17 years ago, Doug & I left our former life in the expensive D.C. area, with our 5-week-old in tow, certain that we wanted for me to be the one to stay home, but with no other plan other than a 1-bedroom apartment that we’d called ahead and reserved.
We didn’t know how God would provide for us, and yet He did. First, with steady work for my husband at Kohl’s. Then, with the office-appropriate clothes we were able to afford with his discount, he made it to an interview where he was hired for good work that sustained our family for 2 years.
Another time, 12 years ago when we lived abroad, my husband collapsed in a country with poor medical care. After coming back to the U.S. for testing, we waited through 7 months of what we called “limbo.” God gave us a place to live and an encouraging time with our church family while we waited and prepared for the next place we would live.
Right now, after 5 years in pastoral ministry in Washington, we’re in Texas for a short-term self-chosen sabbatical– a time of (relative) rest as we pray and search to discover where God means for us to be next.
My husband is working. Our family has a place to live. But neither is a permanent solution.
(reminder to myself, and maybe you too: Only dying to be with Christ in Heaven is a permanent solution. Everything else is temporary, even if it seems nice and cushy and reliable.)
So we’re in a time of waiting for what’s next.
- SEMINARY? He’s been accepted, but in this season of our family’s life (our oldest is nearly 17), we’re not sure it’s the right step to move to a new place for 2-3 years of full-time classwork.
- PASTORAL MINISTRY? Maybe… resumes are out, and some are in process, but so far, God has not opened that door.
- TEXAS? Could be. Family is here. Friends are here. We’re not sure, though… this wasn’t where we anticipated being.
- WASHINGTON? We’d love that, but it’s an expensive place to live, and ministry positions are scarce.
- SOME OTHER PLACE? Doug’s got a lot of resumes out, so that’s a possibility too.
As a wife, especially once we become mothers, we long for security. Stability can seem paramount. Limbo can seem like the worst possible thing.
So uncertainty FEELS like limbo.
And yet– I’m telling you as I’m telling myself– it’s not.
For the Christian, limbo isn’t limbo.
EVEN WHEN we have 9 kids.
EVEN IF it doesn’t make sense to others.
EVEN THOUGH you don’t have clarity about what’s next.
Our Good Shepherd isn’t holding out a little longer in this spot, hoping to come across a field that can sustain this little family of sheep. He knows how long we’ll be here, and He already knows the place where He will lead us. He already knows the next spot.
He will provide food and water enough.
He always has.
Here, in the place that feels like limbo, I’m choosing to look with confidence to the one who made our bodies and gave us our lives– the Shepherd of our souls.
It’s tempting to do otherwise.
- To despair,
- to doubt,
- to be depressed, demoralized, hopeless…
- to desperately clamor for THE answer, NOW.
Instead, as my husband reminded me in his final sermon in Washington,
My Lord calls me to trust, like the child in Psalm 131…
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
The child described in that Psalm is not a newborn — the weaned child is old enough to know, “Mama takes care of me and meets my needs. I can trust her to take care of the big things. I can trust her.”
This Psalm 131 child of God is old enough to know:
My Lord provides for me.
I can be quiet, rather than clamor.
I can keep my eyes here on the daily things, cause He has the big picture under control.
I can quiet my soul, rather than churning with worry.
He’s big. He’s capable. He’s trustworthy.
I can hope in Him.
Praying this will encourage and steady others, as I calm and quiet my own soul, here in Texas, living each day in the limbo that really isn’t limbo.