The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)
About 10 years into our marriage, we found ourselves moving out of our single child family identity. Our second son was about to be born, and we felt ready to move from the familiar rhythms that we three Zimmermans were accustomed to. We had waited for what was the “right time,” and were well into the 9 month wait of meeting this new addition to our family. The wait was over as the day finally arrived for Aaron to be born. Now began of the next stage – between newborn and who this little guy was going to become. How were we going to help him get there? Future possibilities seemed endless.
Not 24 hours after Aaron was born however, we found ourselves shell shocked as his skin went from slight discoloration to extremely jaundiced very quickly. He was rushed into the intensive care unit before we knew what was happening. It turned out he was struggling with ABO hemolytic disease, his blood cells being attacked by maternal antibodies. The onset was so rapid that it appeared incubation in UV boxes was not going to be enough to reverse the condition. We began talking about more drastic treatments like blood transfusion. It was pretty scary. Ultimately, we were fortunate that Aaron responded to subsequent treatments, and eventually recovered.
In between the rush to the ICU and bringing our son home, we had about 2 weeks that felt like 2 years. It was all we could do to wait, doing what felt like nothing. We sat by as his condition fluctuated. We spent nights in the ICU in chairs, on pull-out beds. Our family visited and stayed with us. Friends and co-workers wondered how they could help out as they waited to see the outcome. Our lives were quickly consumed by waiting. Waiting with absolutely no idea where our situation would take us. If not helpless, we certainly felt like we very little agency in the way our own lives were unfolding. Prayer and community played no small part in helping us navigate through this storm as we constantly wondered “What are we supposed to do?”
Turns out that the driftless feeling existing in that space between what is and what’s next is not unique. We tend to feel it most during extreme situations like ours. Maybe between jobs or waiting to hear responses from college applications. But the thing is, this liminal space is always there. We are ALWAYS in between something. Waiting for water to boil, or an app to download, or your hair color to set. Between home and work on the morning commute. Liminal space is the ultimate connective tissue to our lives.
For me it is that space where God just exists within creation, waiting for us to meet Him. His voice is always there, often underneath any number of activities or struggles, but it is there. As human beings we often define ourselves by what we are doing or have planned. It can be easy to miss the quiet of those liminal spaces that breathe in and out of every single moment. Gratitude of the present moment can allow us to fully appreciate what God has put in front of us, and what he has planned just ahead. And to just be grateful that we are not alone in the waiting.
by Kris Zimmerman
This post is part of a series of Advent Reflections – “Joyful Expectation”
Learn more about the series at gslcwi.com/advent