Our school closed for the Christmas Break on December 18. We were supposed to return on January 5, but we are educating the children virtually through screens last week and this week. It’s been 4 weeks since I saw them in real life. We are required to come to the school building but not gather and to wear our masks. I labor in my classroom, alone, attending the many virtual classroom lessons during the day that my teacher leads. In between I clean, organize, and do my paperwork. It’s an in-between time, waiting for the go ahead to bring the children back, but making sure we are productive until then.
I look up from my papers and see empty desks, empty tables, empty hallways. It’s quiet. The day passes slowly. I mark the time, minute by minute. I’m waiting. It’s limbo. It doesn’t feel real.
I look at the headlines and see that we’re in an in-between time in our nation as well. One President going out and another coming in. Maybe. Or not. No one really knows what will happen. There’s blood in the water though, and sharks are circling. Did Biden legitimately win? Was the election stolen? Will Big Tech squash free speech permanently? Will our nation thrive? Or will it die? No one knows. It’s limbo until the Inauguration Day. By then maybe we see what we will see. I’m waiting. It’s limbo. It doesn’t feel real.
It feels like we’re in the eye of a hovering storm like those photos from the National Weather Service, a shelf cloud looming, all demonic looking and evil. Lightning bolts coming down from it, darkness all around. I’m waiting. It’s limbo. It doesn’t feel real.
I got to thinking. Because, well, you know me, always thinking. But my thinking goes to God and His word, because left to my own mullings in my own mind, I’d drive myself crazy and collapse in a mental heap. I turn my thoughts to where there is unassailable truth. So I think, Why is this happening? Where is God in this? What might He be doing? Where in the Bible can I find a like situation? Why are we in limbo?
It doesn’t feel real, but it IS real. That’s the key. No matter what happens on earth, whatever circumstances we are living in, it is ALL real. It doesn’t feel normal, but that’s a good thing. Maybe this is to remind us that we should feel abnormal ALL THE TIME. We are in limbo, waiting for the Lord to come get us or we die and be with Him. This life is a limbo. We’re souls in limbo, justified, but not yet totally free from sin. Sanctified, but not yet totally pure. Awaiting glorification, but not there yet and no clue as to how long. Today? In 50 years? Awaiting heaven… but not there yet. Our lives should be marked by a palpable feeling of limbo, that we strive and do and be here on earth, but this is not yet the final goal.
Our lives are three parts: the part where we were born and live a life of rebellion pre-salvation , a life in the flesh post-salvation, and an eternal life in glory glorified with Jesus in heaven. We’re in the middle of that, in limbo. What is going to happen hasn’t happened yet.
Not that we don’t care about the earthly life we’re living, of course. We’re in the flesh, living lives that God gave us, but Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever, says the Westminster Shorter Catechism. While in the flesh, we remind ourselves that entanglements that divert our attention away from heavenly truths are dangerous. The lyric of the sing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus fits here,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full, in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace
So none of this feels real, true. But none of this IS real, in the sense that it’s permanent. If our whole lives are a timeline, this time in the flesh on earth is a blip smaller than any dot or line on the timeline. The lyrics from stanza 4 of Amazing Grace fit here:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
Let this feeling of limbo, of in-between permeate our mind every day. We live real lives on earth for the time being, but none of this is permanent. In fact, a lot of it will be burned away at the Bema Seat of Christ. When we die and face Him, believers will see what works they did for Him to glorify Him were selfish and worthless, and which truly did glorify Him and enlarge His kingdom with Light. (2 Corinthians 5:10).
So if you’re in lockdown or quarantine and waiting to be sprung, or an educator waiting for the kids, or waiting to visit your senior parent in the nursing home, or a business owner waiting to re-open, whatever you’re waiting for, this is life. This is it. Glorify God in it, don’t wait for the earthly things to return before you start glorifying God in them again. He is permanent and so is His glory.
The more they rage and rage, the more we can continue on, peaceful, grace-filled, glorifying Him. The contrast will be evident, and for some, a saving lifeline to eternity.