What Living in Limbo Taught Me About God
Is it just me or does life feel like a constant season of limbo?
I feel like most of my life I've been living in limbo.
Maybe that’s normal.
As believers, we are born again into the revelation of limbo. We come to understand the temporary nature of life on earth. For us, life on earth is limbo. But that’s not the season of limbo I’m referring to here. What I’m referring to our the smaller seasons of limbo that come up along the way.
I can think back on my life and remember quite a few seasons of limbo.
Growing up, I was always involved in some type of ministry. My parents love serving people and that love has been passed on to me. But ministry comes with a lot of struggles. Serving in ministry does not exempt you from suffering. Just read the accounts of New Testament believers. Hebrews chapter 11 will clear it up real quick.
I can remember seasons where God was calling me away from one place but wasn’t giving clear direction for the next place. All I could do was take the step I could see. It should have been scary times, especially for someone like me who struggles with fear, but most times these moments were peaceful. There was a peace that I was being faithful, and God would take care of the rest. And every time fear would begin to creep in, God’s voice would become all the louder through His Word. The plans were not being laid out in detail like I would’ve liked, but God was leaving bread crumbs as evidence that I was on the right track.
I’m in a similar season now. God has asked me to step out in faith and walk in obedience to His call. But can I be honest? I’m not exactly sure where I’m headed.
Do you know that this reminds me of? Abraham.
At the start of this story, Abraham’s name was Abram. God told Abram to leave his home and to go to the land God would tell him (Genesis 12:1). God asked Abram to go, to leave everything he knew, and God did not give him directions. My first thought is, “this plan would not sit well with me.” But isn’t this what faith looks like? God calls our name. We accept his invitation to follow him, but the journey does not come with directions, only an invitation and promise of an eternal dwelling...eventually.
It really is a walk of faith.
We don’t see Abram argue or ask for more information. All we know from scripture is Abram said yes to God’s invitation.
He left with a promise of God’s blessing and he went (Genesis 12:2-4).
This is the opportunity you and I have when we are in seasons of limbo. We have a divine invitation to lean in and trust that where he sends he leads, sometimes through vague directions.
What I learned About God in Seasons of Limbo
God will lead us.
In limbo, the plans are hidden from us, but not from God. Even though we can’t see the path in front of us, we can trust that God will not leave us without direction. He promises in His word. Proverbs 16:9 is one of my favorite verses. I first underlined it in my Bible in high school with a pink gel pen. It says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (ESV).” Did you catch that? God establishes our steps! The plans may not be clear, but the steps are sure.
God wants a relationship with us.
Every time I have been in limbo I have come out of the season trusting God more. When I can’t seem to make sense of my life, I’m pushed to depend on God to help me. It’s the frustrations of limbo that drive me to seek God and to search for answers from his word. As He answers my prayers and leads me through the season, I grow in my love for Him and my trust in Him. I’m drawn to love Him as I recognize His love for me. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us (ESV).”
God works behind the scenes.
Abram was completely clueless about the work God was doing. We know, as we read the story, that God was working out the details long before he ever spoke to Abram and that those details were part of a much larger story. Abram who would later be renamed “Abraham” became the father of a great nation, the nation of Isreal. Jesus would be a direct descendent of Abraham. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, believing Gentiles (those of us who are not Jews) would be adopted into the family of Christ. All of this was part of God’s plan, but the only information Abram had was step one. To be obedient to God he would leave his home for a place he didn’t even have an address for, with a promise that seemed impossible given the circumstances. The same is true for us.
Seasons of limbo taught me through experience what I’ve known forever from growing up in the church. I was taught that God would lead me, that He wanted a personal relationship with me, and that He was always at work behind the scenes. It wasn’t until I had to live out those truths in seasons of limbo that they settled in my heart.
Don’t be fooled, I still hate living in limbo! But I know that the fruits of hard times are worth the pain we experience as we walk through them.
Do you feel stuck in limbo?
Try this exercise:
Find a quiet place and grab a pen, journal, and your Bible.
Write out your frustrations or questions, whatever will get the ball rolling for you.
Ask God to show you who He is in this situation through the Word.
Open your Bible to Psalms and begin reading.
Look for who God says He is to us (hint: you’ll find “fortress, refuge, hiding place, etc”)
Listen to what God wants to say to you personally.
Choose to stand on the Truth He reveals no matter how you feel.
Share your story! Leave me a comment letting me know if you’ve done the exercise or tell me about how God has walked you through your personal seasons of limbo.
Verses for Further Study:
John 15:1-5, ESV: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Romans 8:25, ESV (read entire chapter): But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
James 1:2-8, ESV: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.