College students get to the horrible day of graduation; horrible because 4 years are spent studying, and then at graduation you need to find a job that is nothing like the work of the last 4 years. After college graduation, these students are often going back to work at the same place they worked at before college. They say “for now I'm working there and living with the parents.” They are in the “Land Between.” “For Now” is the language of the Land Between. There is a real estate salesperson who isn't selling near as many houses and is wondering how he can pay the bills. He is in the “Land Between.”
The Israelites after they left Egypt and before they got to the land flowing with milk and honey were in the “Land Between.” What did they eat in the dessert? God provided manna (which means literally “What is it?”). They ate it every day. Can you imagine how repetitive and boring that was for food. You wouldn't think that the dessert was fertile ground, but it is! The “Land Between” is fertile ground for complaints!
1. The “Land Between” is fertile ground for complaints!
You might be saying “I'm sick of this!” I'm sick of the worry, sick of the situation, sick of wondering...
Question: How is God going to meet his servant Moses?
Numbers 11:11-14 – One of the most honest prayers
2. The “Land Between” is fertile ground for mental meltdown.
Parents worrying about a wayward child. A woman waiting for some conclusive medical test results. Camp director staring at a list of 14 phone calls to board members because of a camp leader having a relation with a young girl who is now pregnant. A pastor dealing with a divisive church split. They're all spent, they just can't handle it anymore. Whenever you sign up for spiritual service, you sign up for problems.
He told the story about how they put off a new building because they weren't ready. The church “grew” from 100 families to 50 families during this time. People would call and ask to go out for coffee. He didn't want to go because he knew why. It felt like he was breaking up, they would say “it's not you, we just need to find somewhere else.”
Numbers 11:16-17 God tells Moses to bring other leaders to share the burden.
God uses the same language as Moses did: to help you “carry the burden.”
What is God is gracious? What if you leave your hands open to receive?
Sometimes God provides patience, sometimes the contentment to deal with less. He may pull you out of depression, or maybe by providing daily strength through your depression.
Elijah is the story of another interesting meltdown. Queen Jezebel is after him. Elijah sits under a tree and asks God to take his life, but falls asleep. An angel touches him and he wakes to water and bread cooking over hot coals. He could not only see it, but smell it. We expect a lecture, but instead God makes him lunch!
Back to the story: There are still the Manna Riots on the Sinai Peninsula...
Numbers 11:18-20 tells the story “because you have rejected the Lord” - they turned the corner: they believed they were better off without God, without being his people. Numbers 11:23a: The Lord answered Moses: are you questioning my goodness or my capabilities? Is the arm of the Lord too short? Is God too weak to provide.
3.The “Land Between” is fertile ground for God's discipline
While the meat was still between their teeth, a plagued killed them. This makes for a good mealtime story when the children don't want to eat their vegetables. We respect the discipline of a loving parent, we also need to respect God's discipline. We respect an employer for calling in an employee who brings appropriate discipline. We are incorrect to think we are immune from his corrective hand when we complain that we are better off without him.
4.The “Land Between” is fertile ground for Transformational Growth
God needs us to trust him. It is in this space we learn to trust, pray and depend on God. We think “Time heals all” but it actually makes people bitter at times.
When you are in the land between, you are in danger.
Choices need to be made in the wilderness. It is a place for transformational growth, but it can also be where faith goes to die.
If you're not careful, complaint will move into your house. It's difficult to evict complaint. Bad movement pushes out good movement.
Trust evicts complaint. They are incompatible roommates.
That very place that we resent and hate is the place is the very soil where God wants to produce a fertile crop. So, may you grow in God and in trust. God knows what we need and provides it when we need it.
May he restore your laughter, may he increase your joy. May you find him present and good in the Land!