Have you ever played limbo? It’s a game of how-low-can-you-go where the most flexible person wins.
I celebrated my 50th birthday with a skating party.
The teenaged DJ announced a game of limbo and I was pretty sure I’d skid to a fall in the first round.
Then my friends and family started dropping out out one after another. Each time I ducked my head low, curled up in a ball, my right leg out, my left leg supporting me, and somehow the bar didn’t topple.
I was a PRO at this!
Later I watched my birthday video.
I laughed out loud when I realized that the guy holding the pole was cheating for the birthday girl.
Perhaps you’ve experienced limbo of a different kind.
And it’s no fun at all.
You’re stuck somewhere between a dream God has placed in your heart and the reality of it arriving any time soon. That’s where Paul lived as he scrawled the letter of Ephesians.
Ephesians is considered one of a few books called the Prison Epistles.
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are all considered Prison Epistles. They were written approximately 61-62 AD while Paul was under house arrest.
Paul had a desire to plant and build churches. He could do none of those things during this time.
How did that make Paul feel?
Luke describes a scene in Acts 23:11. Pause for a moment and read this scripture.
Listen, if God Himself comes to you in the middle of the night and says, “Be encouraged,” you are mightily discouraged.
He didn’t want to be in limbo. He wanted to be in those churches in person. He desired to break out of prison, out of the timeline that didn’t match his own, and that hard place meant that he could only write letters.
Let’s consider what God did with those hand-written letters.
They breathed life into churches trying to exist during persecution.
They continue to liberate and teach and transform believers generations later.
~ “Limbo” may be producing His greatest work in and through you ~
Will it produce transformation?
Is it part of the plan, and you have no way of seeing that — not until eternity (that’s what happened in Paul’s case.)
Is He leading you to trust and depend on Him?
Could it be that the ministry work you are doing right now — that child you are rocking in the middle of the night, that teen you are praying for, that work that doesn’t seem to be going very far, that ministry that isn’t as “successful” as someone else’s — is exactly where God will do His greatest work in and through you?
It’s something to talk with God about.
What letters is He writing in you?
Let’s put some practical application to these passages.
Read Ephesians 1:15-23 in its entirety. Consider where Paul was and the weight of discouragement that weighed heavy in some moments.
Invite the Holy Spirit to join you as you ask these questions.
1. Am I in limbo?
2. Have I allowed discouragement to keep me from seeing what God is doing — right where I am?
3. We are able to encourage others sincerely only when we’ve walked in their shoes. Share three “encouragements” that Paul offers to the church (and to each of us) in this passage.
4. In what ways does understanding Paul’s journey transform this passage?
Share your answers here. Let’s encourage each other today.