The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions – by Jeff Manion
In The Land Between, author Jeff Manion uses the biblical story of the Israelite’s journey through the Sinai desert as a metaphor for being in an undesired, transitional space. After enduring generations of slavery in Egypt, the descendants of Jacob travel through the wilderness (the land between) toward their new home in Canaan. They crave the food of their former home in Egypt and despise their present environment. They are unable to go back and incapable of moving forward. How can this ancient story serve as a guide when we travel through seasons of prolonged difficulty today?
Life is full of unwanted transitions. It is our response to the land between that will determine whether our journey through the desert will result in deep, lasting growth or prove destructive to the soul.
What is critical to remember is that the Israelites traveling through the desert knew these stories . Abraham was the father of their people, and his journey of trust was their spiritual inheritance. The tragedy is that they failed to apply the principles Abraham learned. They “knew” of God’s faithfulness but failed to apply this knowledge to their trying situation. In the wilderness, as they encountered difficulty, they had an extraordinary opportunity to experience the goodness of God firsthand – to apply the story of Abraham to their own story and to trust as he had trusted. But instead of cultivating the life of trust, they responded with perpetual grumbling and complaint. Their spiritual endowment was wasted. Either they lost their history or simply failed to see how it applied.
How are we doing in our Land Between? What kind of response are we cultivating? We, too, have Abraham’s story as a touchstone. We also have the story of the Israelites. How will we allow God’s movement in the past to encourage obedience in the present?
Our Reaction – We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. Often we have no control over what someone does to us – a boss, a spouse, a child, a distracted motorist, a dishonest business partner. But we do have control over our reaction. And we will choose something.
We may choose to withdraw emotionally and silently sink into depression. We may choose seething rage – volcanic anger boiling just beneath the surface of our lives. We may choose retail therapy, numbing our disappointment by stuffing an already full closet. We may allow revenge fantasies to consume our days. But we will choose something. We always respond when we experience deep disappointment. The only question is how will we respond.
Sometimes our decisions don’t feel like choices. It is possible to select a destructive response so frequently that it no longer feels like a decision. It has become a pattern like the Israelite’s murmuring. We respond with a damaging reaction so habitually that it becomes an automatic reflex to a disappointing event.
Don’t be fooled. We choose. We will respond to painful situations, and the choice of response is ours.
That choice is an opportunity …
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