I last entered The Land Between on September 30, 2008. It occurred during a management off-site meeting, held primarily for the purpose of planning a fast start to the coming year. With the current year in the bag, we wanted to make sure that we entered the New Year with maximum momentum. Just a few weeks later, we had more momentum than we thought possible…all in a downward direction.
“The Great Recession” took our company and me personally into what author, Jeff Manion, refers to as The Land Between. Manion contends that The Land Between represents the space where God does some of His deepest work in our lives. Having spent much of the last three plus years there, I must agree. Though like many before me, I didn’t choose to enter The Land Between. Few do, as Manion observes,
“it’s as if the space we want most desperately to avoid is the space that we most desperately need.”
I’ve thought many times about chronicling my experiences in The Land Between. But, every time I approached the keyboard, my fingers froze. Something almost palpable was holding me back. Something I didn’t fully understand and fervently wanted to distance myself from. Something more painful and prolonged than anything I’d ever known. Something that I desperately needed, but had desperately tried to avoid. That something was The Land Between itself…I was still in it…but I wasn’t alone.
We were heading to a much needed spiritual retreat at the Toth Ranch in the Colorado Rockies. It was a bright sunny day, unusually mild for late February. Our spirits were Rocky Mountain high. As the pre-maturely blonde designated driver, I was thoroughly enjoying the banter between the two 20 Somethings in the back and my 30 Something buddy riding shotgun. Then suddenly, things got quiet. “So Mr. Brad”, 20 Something Jimmy said, “from your vast life experience, what can you tell us that could help us become the best men we can possibly be?”
I pondered Jimmy’s question for quite a while. He couldn’t have been more sincere and his buddy, David, seemed equally engaged. I flashbacked to Jack Palance’s “one thing” discussion with Billy Crystal in the movie City Slicker. Young Jimmy was asking me, ”what’s the one thing?” Sensing the importance of the moment, I silently prayed, asking God to help me answer this provocative question…
Wherever you are…be there.
Wow! Talk about cutting to the chase…five words sealed in an eternal envelope. The profundity of this simple exhortation was lost on no one in the car that day, least of all me. Though most always physically present for my lovely bride and five wonderful children, I’ve been frequently mentally and emotionally absent. Choosing instead to grind on something in the painful past or fret over something in the uncertain future. Rarely choosing to truly be wherever I was. Though the world of entrepreneurial terror always comes with a high price tag, I made it more expensive than it needed to be.
How ‘bout you? Do you dwell in the place Dr. Spencer Johnson refers to as “the precious present”? If it’s the exception and not the rule…if you prefer grinding to grinning…if fretting is your first response…STOP! You’re in The Land Between. You’re in the space where God will do His deepest work in your life…if you’ll let Him. Don’t panic. You’ll be out in due time. For now, just remember one thing –
wherever you are…be there.