If you feel as though your life is in limbo, it is time to know that in Christ Jesus, you won’t fall apart. The little pieces that don’t line up with truth will be removed from your soul, to reveal Christ.
Welcome to Celebrating God’s Grace, A Women World Leader’s Podcast, I’m your host Robin Kirby-Gatto.
Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate God’s grace, in our lives, in our ministry, and around the world.
Today’s Podcast is titled, “Limbo.”
“I, John, your brother and companion (sharer and participator) with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patient endurance [which are] in Jesus Christ, was on the isle called Patmos, [banished] on account of [my witnessing to] the Word of God and the testimony (the proof, the evidence) for Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:9 AMPC)
Sometimes we can find ourselves in limbo. Limbo means “a period of awaiting a decision or resolution.” No one knew this better than the apostle John, who was banished to the Isle of Patmos, for preaching the Gospel. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon identifies the Greek word Patmos, means “the place of my killing.” Greek scholar Alexander Cruden states that Patmos means, “I am squeezed to pieces.” This brings light to the scripture of he who throws himself upon the Stone, will be broken to pieces. (Matthew 21:44)
Sometimes we think we have things figured out. We might even believe that we know how God will do things in our life. I learned a long time ago, if I think I know how things will work out, it won’t happen that way. I’m sure John the apostle felt the same way, when he was preaching the Gospel. Although he knew it would cost him his freedom, he truly didn’t know that he would have ended up at Patmos.
If a place is named, “the place of my killing,” or “I am squeezed to pieces,” that pretty much tells me that it’s not on my list for a weekend getaway, much less living out a prison sentence. Patmos is different today, it’s a tourist site with churches erected in honor of John the apostle. However, back in John’s Day, most likely it was as close to the infamous Alcatraz penitentiary.
Imagine how loud the volume of John’s captivity must have been on the Isle of Patmos. Little did he know, is that it would be the birthplace of the book of Revelation. Patmos was the backdrop of one of the most profound books of the Bible, studied by scholars. Had John not been at Patmos, we wouldn’t have the book of Revelation. Part of the requirement for John to receive the writing of the book, was for him to be in tribulation, causing him to throw himself continually upon Christ.
Incredibly, John addresses in Revelation 1:9 that he is a sharer in the tribulations of those who are in Christ. As potent as John’s trial was at Patmos, to consider he would join the other servants of God, who were enduring affliction, blessed my heart. I thought this is a man to whom I can relate.
You and I haven’t gone through anything like John, but we go through other trials, which test our faith. This occurrence in our lives is tribulation, in which God provides grace.
Tribulation comes from the Greek word thlîpsis pronounced thlip’-sis meaning “pressure, afflicted, anguish, burdened, persecution, and trouble.”[i] This comes from the Greek word thlíbō pronounced thlee’-bo meaning, “to crowd, afflict, narrow, suffer tribulation and trouble.”[ii]
You know the movie scenes of someone sitting in a psychiatrist’s office, how they hold up ink blots and ask them what they see? The whole purpose of asking a patient what they see, is to get an idea of the thoughts in a person’s mind. I continually feel like that with the Word of God. I am the patient in the psychiatrist’s office, with God holding up the Hebrew and Greek words, asking me “Robin what do you see?”
When I saw the first Greek word for tribulation, I couldn’t help but see “the lips is,” I know it should be the lips are, but indulge me. Then, when I saw the primary Greek word from which tribulation comes, I couldn’t help but see “the limbo.” When you feel your life is in limbo, you must be careful what words come out of your lips. The lip is the place that keeps you in limbo. Out of the heart the mouth speaks.
Limbo is also the name of a game in which people use a stick to see how low one can go. It originated out of Trinidad, which means Trinity. People started doing the limbo under the cart shaft, which is a wood shaft that attaches the cart to the horse. I imagine that one day someone looked at the cart shaft long enough, and decided they would make a game of it, saying let’s see who can go under it the best. The limbo is about going low, a place of humility. When we go low, we know the power of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
If you’ve ever read a book, you know whether the author has head knowledge on the subject or wisdom, which is an experience within the body. A saying, “I’ve got the t-shirt and have been there,” is an inference that a person has experienced something in their life. The other day I couldn’t help but laugh, as I taught on “sifting” in the Bible and confessed that if we’re looking at this through the colloquium “I’ve got the t-shirt and been there, then I have an entire wardrobe of t-shirts on sifting.” Tribulation is the place of sifting, getting things in us, those little pieces that don’t need to be there, out of our self-image. This helps us see Christ Jesus in us, the hope of glory.
John the apostle at the Isle of Patmos was able to throw himself onto Christ Jesus, and in this act, although he might have felt he was falling to pieces or having a nervous breakdown, he was falling upon the Rock of his salvation. Little did he know that he would see the King of Glory.
42 “Jesus asked them, Have you never read in the Scriptures: The very Stone which the builders rejected and threw away has become the Cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 I tell you, for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed to powder [and It will winnow him, scattering him like dust].” Matthew 21:42-44 AMPC
Jesus is referring to the prophecy of Psalm 118:22, that He would be the Chief Cornerstone on which God’s Kingdom would be built. Cornerstones are the foundation to a building, to which every other stone is aligned. In the ancient days, the instrument used to ensure placement of all the stones in a building, was a plumbline. A plumbline is a string with a weight on the bottom, which makes it easy to place against the cornerstone and line all other stones on top. The Stone represents Jesus Christ, and His righteousness, upon which our faith is built.
Thus, each person who comes into the Kingdom of Heaven, falls upon the Chief Cornerstone. We line up with truth. John was fashioned at the Isle of Patmos to throw himself upon the Rock of his salvation. Instead of falling apart and letting the prison get the best of him, he entered the place of truth, as Jesus called John higher to receive revelation that would change history.
Likewise, tribulations in our own life, open our eyes to the Word of truth, so that our heart and mind line up with what God says. During trials, we might feel like we’re falling apart. When you throw yourself upon Christ Jesus and what the Word says, the little pieces that don’t line up with truth, are taken out of your heart and mind. This leads to greater comprehension of Who Christ Jesus is. He is the Rock on which our faith rests. We can cast all our cares upon Him, and He will direct us through it. We no longer are in limbo, but instead have gone lower still.
As John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase.” Our greatest aim in life is to see Christ Jesus in us, which is the ceaseless grace of God given to us daily. In our weakness, going low, God is strong.
[i] Strong’s Concordance Greek word # 2347 “tribulation”
[ii] Strong’s Concordance Greek word # 2346 “trouble”