Posted by: bellissimanh | January 1, 2008

Living in Limbo

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

(John 21:15)

If you read the context of this verse, you’ll see that Jesus asked Peter not once, not twice, but three times… “Do you love me?” Just as Peter had denied Christ three times, Jesus now gives Peter the opportunity to respond three times… “Yes! I love You, Lord!”  I love that!

I’ve often wondered what Jesus meant by that comment… “Do you love me more than these?” What was the “these”?  Generally, we take it to mean Jesus was asking if Peter loved Him more than the other disciples did… or more than Peter loved the other disciples… but I’ve also wondered if maybe Jesus was asking if Peter loved Him more than he loved the other things in his life – fishing, for example.

In the days immediately following Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter must have been at such a strange place. I know I would have been. Overwhelmed, confused, hopeful, and yet skeptical… and totally unsure of what my next step should be. I imagine they all probably felt similar emotions to those. 

In John 21:3, Peter makes up his mind. “I’m going fishing.”   I wonder… what made him choose this? Was he remembering another time they had come in from fishing, and met the One who would make them fishers of men? Was he replaying the call of Jesus in his mind, wondering if he were still worthy of such a call? Was this an act born of hope that the call would be renewed? Or was he simply going back to the only thing he knew to do before Jesus entered his life? Was he assuming that his new life was over, and that all he was back to square one? 

As he navigated those waters of Galilee, did Peter think back over another night when they had gone fishing and caught nothing? And how the Lord provided a miraculous catch? Did he envision Jesus walking on the water? Or the way He had calmed a raging storm? Could he hear echoes of Jesus’ voice bouncing off the waters as He taught the crowds from a boat, just off shore? I can’t even imagine what this night must have been like for Peter. Did he feel as if the past three years had been some kind of dream? Was it surreal for him, as he sat in the gently rocking boat, thinking about where he would go from here?

I’m finding myself in a similar frame of mind right now. As we search for a new pastor, I have spent much time (probably too much) reflecting on the past several years. I have replayed wonderful moments in my mind. I have thought about the things the Lord has taught me through different situations. I am overwhelmed by the way He has drawn me closer to Himself and grown my faith… the way He has revealed more and more of Himself to me and brought me to a deeper level in my relationship with Him. I have marveled at His hand in my life (and the lives of those around me).  

At the same time — as Peter must have felt — I am somewhat at a loss as to what the future holds. I don’t feel abandoned by God, and yet things are very different. I feel a bit lost, I guess. I lack vision and focus. I realize that the Lord is the head of our church… I recognize that a pastor is only a man, appointed by God to lead a fellowship… but I also know that if shepherds weren’t needed, then our Father wouldn’t have seen fit to ordain that position in the church. I am anxious and impatient for Him to fill that vacancy and to see what He has in store for our fellowship in the coming year.

I don’t like limbo. I don’t know that anyone does. And yet that is where the Lord has us right now. Stuck between the past and the future… uncertain of what lies ahead, unsure of what we should be doing here and now. Our only option right now is to trust the Lord. If we rely on our own efforts, we will come up with nothing, just as Peter and the others did on their night of limbo fishing. We have an opportunity in this new year to keep alert and watchful for what the Lord is doing, and then to join Him in it. I’m praying that the Lord will kick this spirit of apathy right out of me… that He will open my eyes to the ways He wants me to serve Him (and this fellowship), and that He will renew my spirit and refresh my soul… so that I will follow His lead, not out of obligation, but out of a passionate desire to express my heart to Him… to give Him all of myself.

“Heather, do you love me?”

“Heather, do you love me?”

“Heather, do you love me?”

Yes. Yes! YES! Use me to feed Your sheep, Lord. Use me to meet their needs. Use me however You desire. I love You!



  1. I am still praying for you guys! I am glad to hear you encourage yourself in the Lord:) He will work all things for our good…

  2. My former church went through this 5 1/2 years ago. The pastor that I’d had since I was 2 years old – nearly 23 years – felt led to leave. We got a new pastor within a few months, but things have been very rocky since the day he came. It’s hard to understand why God allows the church to go through these things. And, unfortunately, after lots of ups and downs, my family and I began visiting other churches 5 months ago and have found a place where we are being fed more spiritually than we have been in years. I’m not at all suggesting that you leave your church. It was just what was best for us after almost 6 years of feeling spiritually dead. I will pray that the Lord leads the right individual to fill your pulpit so that you get out of your worship services what the Lord desires for you. God Bless! Melissa H.

  3. Happy New Year, Heather!

    I loved the poems…really impressive. And I can see why the second is your favorite!

    Praying for you as you are “in limbo”. It is a difficult place to be, but a place where God can teach us MUCH! I know this full well 😉

  4. Oh how I hate that limbo place! It’s during those times of uncertainty that Satan does some of his best work!

    I’ll be praying for you during this time. Just because we feel off balance during times of transistion, doesn’t mean that God has dropped the ball. He is preparing you for the plans He has already made for you!

  5. limbo. yes.

    my husband and i were talking tonight about where we think we’ll end up after seminary.
    right now, we’re just stuck in limbo!!

    i pray He will give you clarity as well.

  6. When you get a chance, drop by to pick up your award!

  7. When I think about Limbo I, the goofball I am, can hear the song “Do the Limbo!”

    So… maybe this limbo thing is about bending…

    How low can you go?

    Maybe God will use this to give you more flexibility where he is concerned.


  8. Heather…I loved yoru thoughts on this section of scripture. I too want to have a keen eye for what God is doing and to join in as He calls.

    As you said, “ that I will lead, not out of obligation, but out of a passionate desire to express my heart to Him.” AMEN!

    Limbo is a hard place to be…not knowing where to head and feeling “lost”. I will pray that God will renew your spirit and pull you out of Limbo!

  9. Heather,

    I’ve been a bit absent from a whole lot of blog commenting, but I couldn’t let this one go! This is a great post and a great lesson to learn!! It will hang with me the rest of the day…

    Dori, do you love Me more than these?


    Blessings, friend!

  10. Amen! Praying that He will indeed be the One you love (me, too!)…
    In His Joy,

  11. I haven’t even read it yet… I’m going to, though. First – question:
    Would you like to contribute to a new blog I’m trying to start up for readers and writers? I’ve had a pleasantly surprising amount of interest (we’ll see if there will actually be any follow-through, though!). I would love to see some posts from people who either 1. love to read and have a good book review or quote or passage to share, and perhaps a comment or discussion on it, and/or 2. write something original for those of us who love to read to enjoy. That could be a poem, a chapter of a book they are trying to write, inspiration, personal stories, ideas or creative thoughts to mull on, WHATEVER! Well, as long as it’s edifying. 🙂

    You’re a great writer, and obviously, a reader, as well… so you’d be a natural one for me to think of. I know you’re busy, but if you want to post, you could post on your individual blog something like, “I’m posting at the Book Journal today!” with a link, and you’re good to go! Plus, you’d be bringing your readers with you.

    I’m thinking about adding a sidebar “list of contributors,” so if you’re interested, give me a holler over at my email and we’ll go from there. I may just give regular contributors the login and a post day, I’m not sure. It would make things easier if I did it that way… But I’m still trying to figure it out.

    If you’re swamped or not interested at the moment, that is FINE. No pressure whatsoever. Just thought I’d ask – it’s just a fun experiment, and if no one else joins in, I’m just going to have fun by myself keeping my own book journal, so no big deal. The new blogsite is listed on my profile, I believe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: