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Transitions (Part 2)

To help us understand Transitions, we will employ the biblical narrative describing a particular liminal moment in the life of King David.

The 1 Samuel 18-22 narrative unveiled several life-changing liminal principles. These chapters gave me a language and insight to understand my spiritual formation and transformation better. God, in His goodness and grace, was teaching me how to be formed slowly in this midst of living and leading in this space while revealing the importance of recognizing how normal this space would be all the days of my life. Living in a liminal space, in the in-between, and learning the language of these transitions forever changed how I viewed this vital formation space with God and leadership development.

David is the main character in this narrative and lives in a constant tension of what is and what should rightly be his. Most importantly, he begins to discover who he is and who he will become. David’s liminal space, his in-between experience, would last almost forty years, from the time of his anointing as a shepherd boy until he actually would be ruling the kingdom. In those forty years, he did not sit idly until his rightful moment to rule but engaged in his life and faith in the interim. Once David became king, he experienced many liminal spaces through obedience, disobedience, triumphs, and failures.

Brueggeman comments on the life of David in David’s Truth: In Israel’s Imagination and Memory: “This man is public, and any report cannot disregard his public life. If he were not a public man, he would not be so interesting, nor would things be so difficult. What we have, then, is an intimate portrayal of a public man. We learn the truth about him.”[6] We recognize this public, heroic David demonstrating freedom and giftedness while simultaneously showing the reality of the temptation to sinful pursuit and its painful consequences.[7] David is a king who acts with loyalty to the covenant and yet is fallible in his character with Uriah and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11).[8]

Considering this study of liminality, the contrast between David’s life as a faith hero and a person who was flawed as a witness is essential. It is vital because God sees us in our victories and failures and the in-between found in them, yet He still desires that our lives will pursue what is right in the sight of the Lord and not turn aside from what He commands from us throughout our lives (1 Kings 15:4-5). Holding the tension of God’s grace in our failures is vital in the formation journey.

Although we are not looking at the entirety of David’s journey through this episode in 1 Samuel 18-22, we will still need God’s grace to lead and form us while living in and embracing liminal space. In this space, we often must navigate the life between where we have been and where future promises bring hope of where we will be. In this space, we can often feel confused, perplexed, and discouraged in our faith. Yet, liminality is a normal space where we will discover a new language and insight to embrace toward our formation in Christ.

In the following writings, this startling truth presented by Richard Foster will challenge readers: “Our world is hungry for genuinely changed people…. Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”[9] When we do not rush the in-between (liminal) space in which we find ourselves and embrace all that God desires for us to learn and be transformed by, we move toward the depth Foster describes.

Willard equally convicts with his challenge toward the same goal. He suggests we ask ourselves “about what kind of person you are becoming, and about whether you really would be comfortable for eternity in the presence of one whose company you have not found especially desirable for the few hours and days of your earthly existence. And He is, after all, One Who says to you now, ‘Follow me’.”[10] To that goal, we look forward to “becoming” together.

         And with ‘becoming’ as our goal, I suggest that we build on the usage and understanding of liminality by introducing the word transition. For me, transitions imply movement, both away from and towards. It is a formation-type word describing development and growth in our lives.

I appreciate the following definition provided by Walling, “A transition is a defined period of time where one phase or period of an individual’s development ends and another phase or period needs to begin. A transition represents that in-between time. Transitions move a Christ-follower from somewhere to somewhere else.”  (Terry B. Walling, Stuck!: Navigating Life and Leadership Transitions, rev. ed. (Chico, CA: Createspace, 2015), 14, Kindle.)

        Along with seeing who you will become in your transition experience is the hope that you are moving from somewhere to somewhere else and becoming something wholly renewed in Christ. 

On the Transition Journey with you,


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