Thresholds – David Hampton

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 NIV

photo courtesy morguefile.com & madcastI have recently been doing a bit of reading about something called liminal space, or liminality.

Liminality isn’t as spooky as it sounds. It is essentially a kind of threshold period—that sense of no longer belonging to the old and not quite yet belonging to the new. This is the season where life has moved us ahead of our plans and we are in what feels like a free-fall state. These shifts can be vocational, personal, relational, or logistical but it is always unsettling for us to be between the now and the not yet, especially when it isn’t by our design or choosing.

Sometimes we aren’t even aware we’ve entered that space until we experience the emotional fallout. As mystic Richard Rohr describes, liminality is when we have left one room but not quite entered another. This is the doorway we must walk through after life’s most defining moments, the space in which we find ourselves after things like divorces, deaths, job changes, or sudden losses. And even positive shifts like sobriety and recovery. Or shifts in our belief systems or ideology that we haven’t settled. Regardless, liminality is the space from which we have to address what life will look like from here forward.

Sometimes it is a season of letting go of the illusion of certainty. Most of us describe it as a crisis of faith or a time of spiritual depression when, in fact, it is just a transitional season. We know intuitively that we won’t be the same, but we aren’t sure yet what we will be.

The great thing about liminal spaces is that they are where God seems to begin doing a new thing. We are no longer on autopilot and we can begin to anticipate something completely fresh. We can finally see ourselves outside of the box we’ve been in for years or sense a wave of God rolling us forward, away from old ways of thinking and being that we might have never left behind on our own. For all the angst and worry that accompanies being in liminal space, there is a great deal to be celebrated and anticipated.

There are multiple examples in Scripture of God leading people into such places—most often a time of teaching and preparing. This time is an excellent season to expect the fruit of deeper insights, wisdom, and compassion to follow.

Liminality doesn’t last forever, so we can be certain we will eventually turn a corner of some kind … soon enough. Whether we face it with fear or anticipation is up to us.

Reflection: What are some thresholds you find yourself in today? What fears accompany that transition? How can you embrace a place of anticipation and joy as you watch God doing a new thing in you, as opposed to fear and regret holding on to what is falling away?

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com and madcast

 

9781938499968Dave Hampton is the author of Our Authentic Selves: Reflections on What We Believe & What We Wish We BelievedFor most of his life, David Hampton could tell you what he believed about anything, anytime, at the drop of a hat. He prided himself in how well he could parrot what he’d been taught about the Christian doctrine. At some point, he decided to trust the experts with matters regarding his spiritual formation and he learned to spout their words as his own. In so doing, he flipped off the switch in his heart.

 

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Rise and Shine – Gayle Ottemiller

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Let your little light shine.

You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matt 5:14a,16 NIV

When I was a kid, our family had a summer camp on the lake. On warm summer evenings I’d go to the back yard at twilight and watch for fireflies. I’d wait…and watch for darkness and those blinking little bugs to begin their nightly light show. No drum roll heralded the coming of the fireflies. Then they were there. Little bursts of yellow-green luminosity, bouncing over the yard, out into the night sky. I’d studiously follow the flickering path of light.

The bug itself wasn’t as mysterious as the light that it carried. Yet the light drew me, fascinated me. That blinking little bug sure lets his light shine! What are they plugged into? I wondered.

Jesus was the light of the world. He said, Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. When we believe in Jesus and receive Him into our hearts by faith, we become a light as well. One which is commanded to shine before all men.

Like the firefly, I’m not very big in the vast scheme of things. But God charged me with his light when I put my trust in Jesus. He put me in a darkened world to shine for Him.

Be the pinpoint of light that makes others curious to know more about God. Let Your light shine to draw others to the Light of the world.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and suphakit73.

Gayle OttemillerGayle Ottemiller is retired after working for over thirty years with developmentally disabled adults. Her articles, devotions, and poems have appeared in War Cry magazine, The Quiet Hour, Chera, Christian Communicator, and Vista as well as Christian newspapers in New York and Pennsylvania. She currently has a book of poetry, Faith Lifts: When Life Lets You Down, which is accompanied by her own photography and a CD with several poems set to original music by Dr. Bill Cummings. She is working on a 30-day devotional for quilters, A Patchwork of Promises.

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Light of the World – Edie Melson

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Jesus came as the Light of the World

Everything was created through him;
 nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
 and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
 the darkness couldn’t put it out. John 1:3-5 The Message

What exactly is light? Have you ever thought about it? I know there are scientific explanations for what light is, but the definition that matters to me is that it’s a source of illumination. Without light we’re blind.

Our family loves to camp, the old-fashioned type of camping, in a tent. Somehow it just feels closer to nature, sometimes a good thing, sometimes not. One of the things I don’t like about tent camping is responding to the call of nature in the middle of the night. Walking through the woods to the bathhouse on a moonless night is seriously dark—horror movie dark. I remember making that trek one time, and in the middle of my journey, my flashlight died. It left me essentially blind. I must have stumbled around for five minutes before I made it to the bathhouse, and I think I hit every tree and stumbled over every rock in the vicinity. In the dark, those obstacles became huge, yet during the daylight I’d hardly even noticed them.

This is why Jesus was born—to bring light to a world in darkness. When I walk with Jesus, my flashlight works and the world is illuminated. Things that would bother me or hinder me in the dark, I hardly notice. Things in the dark are often times very scary—horror movie scary. But in the light we can see them as they really are and see that, with Christ, there is no need for fear.

This is the season to draw closer to God, and let His light shine into all the dark places. Only He can replace overwhelming fear with infinite peace.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also a regular contributor to Novel Rocket, a Writer’s Digest pick for top writing websites.

She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, and her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. Married thirty years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

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Trail Markers – Susan Anderson

Follow His pathway

I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, by have the light of life. John 8:12 NKJV

I prefer hiking where the trail’s designer included clearly posted trail markers. On an early fall hike, my college friends and I carefully followed the blue diamond trail markers that dotted the trees ahead of us. We’ve known each other for over twenty-five years and gather together annually to celebrate our friendship and to reflect on our walk with God. This year we grabbed a trail map and set out for a hike in Lacawac Sanctuary. “Sanctuary” aptly describes this parkland – a 500-acre preserve gifted to the public in the Lake Region of Pennsylvania.

Two thoughts came to mind when I began the hike: One, “I wonder how long the hike will take.” And two, “Will we really enjoy this?” My friends and I intentionally choose a “moderate” hike and then stepped onto the grassy path leading to the woods. We walked and talked and sometimes fretted about navigating the water-logged path. Hours of rain from the previous day and night had soaked sections of the trail, but it had also provided a source for two strong-flowing waterfalls along our little adventure. Sure, we stretched a bit to span these unusually rushing water obstacles. However, the sounds and views of the water refreshed our spirits.

We stepped with some added caution after little frogs jumped out from under fallen leaves. As they drew our attention to the forest floor, tiny orange salamander-looking newts scrambled across the trail – we counted over 100! While keeping watch for the blue diamonds, we dodged spiderwebs and sagging limbs. We spotted both enormous and petite storybook-looking mushrooms, fan-like fungus, and fuzzy white caterpillars, as well as pausing at fourteen noted “sights of interest.” All seemed to interrupt the task of finishing our hike, yet finishing was not the complete goal; it also included the enjoyment and refreshment of being with friends in the company of God and His creation as we followed the blue diamond trail markers to our destination.

God hasn’t called us to finish each trail as fast as we can; He has called us to follow and track with Him. When we do, our lives will be filled and refreshed by the “light of life” rather than characterized as those who “walk in darkness.” If you’ve accepted the generous gift of Jesus Christ as your Savior, you’ve stepped onto the path designed by your Creator. God has also gifted you with the Holy Spirit to help you find and follow the trail markers no matter the terrain.

God is good like that — never setting us on our way without some way to lead. He is the light. Seek after Him and may you finish well.

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Susan lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two teenage daughters. They have lived in New Jersey for all of their twenty-three years of marriage. Susan accepted Christ as her Savior when she was a child. However, her deeper fellowship with God has occurred through her adult years as He has held and equipped her each day. She began writing to testify of God’s goodness and His sovereign care over His children.

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