Life in Liminal Spaces
By Shar Warkentin, Worship Arts Program Associate and Church Relations Coordinator
I have been thinking a lot about liminal spaces lately.
According to Tony Martignetti, a leadership coach from Inspired Purpose Coaching, the word “liminal” comes from the Latin word “limen,” which means threshold. To be in a liminal space means “to be on the precipice of something new but not quite there yet.” In the bible, we are often reminded that the kingdom of God is here, and yet not fully realized. We find ourselves living in a liminal space between what is and what is to come.
My current experience in life finds me living in a number of liminal spaces – some bringing a sense of hopefulness and some bringing sadness and a sense of loss; some causing me to anticipate new possibilities, some causing me to come to terms with final goodbyes and endings. Given my personality and love of order and direction, I find it challenging to navigate the journey in these spaces. The reality of living between the now and the not yet is pushing me to pay attention to what trust, surrender, and faith look like in my daily walk with Jesus.
Interestingly, my daily Bible reading has had me spending time with Moses and the Israelites for the past few months. Forty years in the desert is certainly a liminal space. Those years represented a time of holding on to a promise for a good and secure future while living a daily experience of trust for provision, protection, and direction.
While my life experience is nothing like the average Israelite of that time, I do find myself wrestling with some common doubts and questions. I also find myself wanting to be like Moses and the other leaders God raised up in that time. I want to be deeply rooted in faith, holding tight to God’s promises, quick to run to my Father God with my questions, frustrations, and fears, able to hear His voice as He speaks to me and ready to do what He asks me to do.
I am so thankful for God’s word – always and especially in this season of uncertainties. He speaks to me through the stories, the teaching and the exhortation recorded in the pages of my Bible. I find myself able to trust that God is in control and active while I am in the waiting. I find myself less bothered by my inability to control or plan or do and more able to sit in the uncertainties without fear. I find myself with a sustained reservoir of anticipation that God is on the move and that His provision, protection, and direction will bring about “immeasurably more than all [I] could ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within [me]. (Eph. 3:20)
Perhaps it comes from a lifetime of being a worship pastor and leader, but often God speaks to my heart in the lyrics of songs I have loved and memorized. This one comes to mind often when I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the waiting and uncertainty. When I worry about health and a life impacting diagnosis for a loved one: be still my soul. When I face waves of change and wonder what might still be ahead: be still my soul. When I wait for things, I have no ability to control or even impact the outcome: be still my soul. When I wonder how much longer the world can carry on as it is, how much more hate can consume us and how much more brokenness and fear can hold us all hostage: be still my soul. The LORD is on your side.
Be Still My Soul
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
In You I rest, in You I find my hope.
In You I trust, You never let me go.
I place my life within Your hands alone;
Be still, my soul.
words by Katharina A. von Schlegel, 1752
trans by Jane L. Borthwick, 1855
Additional chorus by Kari Jobe