All we can do, my love, is hope we don’t take this ship down. – Dave Matthews
At the time of writing this, we made the announcement of transition to the church. I have quite bit to reflect on and chew on.
Let me take you back to Ash Wednesday, 2019.
The irony wasn’t lost on me.
Ashes imposed on my head.
Sitting in the Bishop’s office trying to figure out how I got myself into this and where to go from here.
Before I went to the Conference office, I stopped by my friend’s church to receive ashes because I knew I was going to miss my church’s Ash Wednesday service.
“Joseph,” she said. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
See, the trouble begins when we think we are more than dust; when we forget that from dust we come and to dust we shall return.
Which is why Pride is considered the deadliest sin of the 7 Deadly Sins.
Hubris/pride makes us think we are more than we actually are. It allows us to think that we are god-like ourselves — therefore, why depend on God at all? We make ourselves big and, in turn, make God small.
A big reason why I find myself in this in between space is due to hubris.
So what’s next?
I wish I knew.
I have no idea.
And it’s not one of those invigorating “I have no idea what’s next but let’s move!” type of thing.
It’s more of an, ‘oh s#$#. I don’t know what’s next” type of thing.
But the in between space isn’t something new.
The Bible calls it the wilderness. It’s something the people of the Bible knew very well.
The space between:
Abraham being promised a son and the actual birth of Isaac…
the Israelites being liberated from slavery and arriving to the Promised Land…
David being anointed king and actually sitting on the throne…
Jonah being in the belly of a fish and being spit out on the shores of Nineveh…
Queen Esther spending 3 days fasting and risking her life approaching the king ..
Jesus’ baptism and start of his ministry..
The Prodigal Son leaving home and coming to his senses…
Saul’s journey to Damascus and becoming Paul…
There’s a lot of ‘being forged through fire’ elements when it comes to being in the space between. One simply does not go through the space in-between; the wilderness and come out the same.
Because in this space — there’s no more time for lying; for falsehoods; for façades; for BS — it’s a coming-to-an-end-of-myself place. It’s a realization that you’ve got yourself to this place and you’re simply not going to be able to get yourself out of it.
No matter how much you let your ego think that you were something more; something bigger; something different; something better — it’s in this place where you and your ego come to an understanding: from dust I came and to dust I shall return.
It’s in this place you seek for help.
That you can’t — and won’t — get out by yourself.
This is where you finally say, okay God. Help.
Richard Rohr talks about the Eastern depiction of the resurrection:
Adam and Eve are “limp-wristed” symbolizing their powerlessness; that they can’t pull themselves out of their grave.
The only way out is to have Jesus pull them up by their wrist.
That doesn’t happen until you acknowledge your powerlessness.
Until you embrace that you’re not in control.
Until you let go of this grandeur that you are god-like; ruler of the universe.
Until you realize that you are nothing but dust…
Until you offer your limp wrist for Christ to pull you out because you understand that it is the only way out.
It is impossible to exit the space between the same way you entered it.
It’s almost like you enter the space broken and you exit by being placed together by God the way God intend you to be put together.
I love how Mark wrote about Jesus’ time in the wilderness:
He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him— Mark 1:13b
Wild animals abound.
But so do the angels.
Like I stated earlier — I have no idea what’s in store for us next.
But this much I know: God’s with us.
And I trust there’s a path for us. I fully understand it might not be what I envisioned. But that’s what led me to this space to begin with.
I simply trust and move forward; partnering prayer with action.
This season is an important lesson to learn. I just wish I could’ve learn it vicariously. But experience is the best teacher.
In the mean time, God surrounds us with angels in the presence of wild animals and wilderness as we move forward.
All I can do is offer my limp wrist and trust that Christ will pull us out. It’s the only way out. It’s the best way out.
Take my hand
‘Cause we’re walking out of here
Oh, right out of here
Love is all we need dear – Dave Matthews, The Space Between