Limbo

I hate limbo. I’m not talking about the luau game . . . although that’s not my favorite either. And I’ve never played the video game by the same name.

I’m talking about that in-between place we sometimes have to live. The place between what was normal and what is going to be our new normal at some point in the future. Limbo is that place where we don’t have a normal.

Sometimes limbo feels like freefalling. Like I just hit the bottom of the biggest incline on the biggest rollercoaster . . . and my stomach’s still at the top. It feels exciting. But mostly it’s just scary.

Other times limbo feels like nothingness. Like I’m nowhere. It feels like I’m far from home, I don’t know how to get back home, and I don’t know when I’ll be back there.

Sometimes limbo is the result of a good thing. Whenever I start a new job, I always feel like a fish out of water for the first few weeks. It takes a little while to get my feet on the ground . . . to find my new normal.

But other times limbo is caused by something not so positive. Life happens and all of a sudden it’s like a rug’s been jerked out from under me. I’m in shock. Hurting. Possibly angry. Definitely confused.

It feels as if life stops right then and there, and that life won’t start up again until I get back to normal . . . or until I figure out my next normal. But during limbo, I don’t feel like I’m really living. I feel like I’m just surviving.

But I believe there’s a lot more going on during limbo time than just nothingness.

I’ve been studying Noah recently and I saw something in Genesis 8 that I don’t remember seeing before. Something that makes me think limbo can potentially have some positive results.

If there was ever a time of limbo illustrated in the Bible, I believe it’s Noah’s time on the ark! He no longer has a home. He doesn’t know exactly how long before his life gets back to normal. And he has no idea what his new normal will be like. Or even where it will be located! And during this time there is no mention of God talking to him like before the flood. Life feels like a lot of hard work (mucking stalls) and drifting along (literally) with absolutely no control.

Noah’s journey on the ark definitely paints a picture of limbo. But let me share what I saw in this story.

If you went to church decades ago like I did, you probably remember the flannel board showing the animals walking up the gangplank onto the ark two by two. From aardvarks to zebras and everything in between. Later you saw them walking down the gangplank two by two when the flood was over.

But when I recently read the story in the Amplified Version, I noticed that the animals did not come off two by two. Verse 19 says they departed the ark by families! There had been growth that took place during the limbo season. That’s encouraging!

We’ve all had limbo seasons and we’ll probably have more. But at least we can trust that our limbo seasons are not just “nothingness” . . . although they may feel that way. If we’ll just do the work we need to do every day and trust that God is in control, I believe that our limbo seasons can be times of growth . . . no matter how uncomfortable they are!

So the next time I’m in a holding pattern . . . whether it’s on an airplane, an ark, or just a normal day at the office . . . I’m going to trust that God has a purpose for my limbo . . . and I’m going to start looking for the growth!

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