Within days of having written Part 1 of this article our Home Group started to study a book entitled “The Land Between”, it was based on all I had previously written and more. So here is part 2….
After generations of slavery in Egypt, the sons and daughters of Abraham make their way towards the Promised Land. The desert is not intended to be their final destination but rather a necessary middle space where they will be formed as a people and established in their connection to God.
We too can find ourselves in this Land Between, a place of undesired transitions. Situations where life is not as it once was, everything we regard as normal is interrupted.
The Israelites had experienced God as the God who sees, the God who provides and the God who cares, but somehow their hearts couldn’t hold on to the truth of God’s identity. They couldn’t trust him; they had known God’s faithfulness in theory but were called upon to know through experience.
God brings us out of Egypt and into the Land Between to draw us closer in a relationship of trust and to transform us. For God is very interested in the people we are becoming. If we can understand what God desires from these experiences, we can allow him to produce in us the very things we need. We can trust him to provide in ways we might not even know to ask – trust that he sees us, knows our needs and looks on us with loving concern.
The Land Between can be characterised by complaint and discouragement, crying out to God, endless unanswered questions, learning from mistakes and ultimately, if we open our hearts to God, growth.
Both Moses and the Israelites despaired in the desert but the key difference in their questions was Moses turned toward God and candidly poured his heart out to God whereas the Israelites complained about God.
Peter declares; “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”
The very act of voicing our trouble to God begins a conversation in which we have opened ourselves up to his care, his mercy and his provision.
David through the psalms poured out his heart to God – his anguish and his hope, his despair and his faith. This is the poetry of trust. He refuses to diminish the struggle he is experiencing but he cries out to God to act mercifully on his behalf.
Psalm 13 starts; “How long will you hide your face from me? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
But then David continues; “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
It is not that we despair or that we question or struggle to understand the situations we find ourselves in that matter, it is where we ultimately turn that is important.
The Israelites missed it time and time again but we can learn from their mistakes and grow in our relationship with God, building trust and deepening our faith. God is our hope, not just for relief but for lasting transformation.
Often God leads us through the land we most want to avoid in order to produce the fruit we most desperately desire. We come to possess a vital faith that allows us to be at our best when life is at its worst and draws us closer to who God intended us to become.
My calendar for August had a picture of a butterfly with the caption “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over…. it became a Butterfly”, which I think is a beautiful image for the Land Between.