Advent Truths in the Liminal Spaces

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The house is (what has become) a familiar sight.  Boxes stacked in corners. Cabinets hold only a few essentials.  The to-do list ebbs and flows by day’s end.  We will celebrate Christmas this year in liminal space – with one foot in our first home and one foot in our forever home.

Stripped of any sense of settled, I have foregone even the dream of the idealized Christmas painted in the classic songs.  I have found myself most drawn in gratitude for the Advent truths in the liminal spaces.  Wrapped in the rough and worn packaging of ancient texts, I have already received the greatest gifts Christmas has to offer – time spent with a God who reveals what we have not known before, concepts that provide ever-constant openings to a new future, and truths that save me daily.

While I look forward to a settled Christmas next year, I throw no pity party now.  For the most important gifts have already arrived and they remain new every morning to unwrap with great delight.

These past eighteen months have been a time of disappearing, dissolving, evolving, and reappearing and I am changed by it.  My name (who I have been), my place (the way I have interacted with the world), and my posture of rest (in the leaving, being, and returning) has shifted under my feet and revealed the impermanence of it all.  What has emerged has been the special truths of liminal spaces.  My primary, eternal, “Really Real” name, place, and posture can never be defined by my surroundings, external assessment, or life stage marker.  I do not build my own house, my own lineage, nor my own legacy.

Are you the one to build me a house to live in?  I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great NAME, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a PLACE for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you REST from all your enemies.

Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Who I am, where it is that I reside, and how it is that I can be – all of it is forever defined by a God who builds me a house, a lineage, a legacy.   I am a servant of God, who abides in God’s creation and rests in God’s promises.

My real name comes from God’s redeeming.
My real place comes from God’s planting.
My real posture of rest comes from God’s rescuing.

Once life settles, I may slowly lose practice of noticing these truths. I may overlook or disdain them. But with the ebb and flow of time, I know they will always emerge again… and it will be Christmas morning all over again.  New presents with ancient truths that covers what was, colors what is, and already consumes what will be.

This Christmas, I pause and give thanks for the gift of an eternal name, place, and posture of rest.  Or in the words of David…

And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:28-29

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