This book is not intended to be a how-to manual on locating a swift exit ramp from the Land Between. I will not give counsel on career selection, job hunting, or debt management. I offer no advice on changing the heart of your rebellious teenager or the behavior patterns of your husband or wife. Instead, consider me your tour guide who will describe the terrain of the Land Between so we can travel through it with greater skill and grace, arriving on the other side with a deeper, richer faith.

My desire is to portray the challenges and opportunities that are unique to life in the desert. For instance, we will have to wrestle with some critical questions along the way: Is it possible to possess a vital faith that prompts you to be at your best when things are at their worst? Is it possible for the best version of you — whom God created — to emerge while you are passing through a season of profound disappointment, unnerving chaos, or debilitating pain?

The Land Between can be profoundly disorienting. It also provides the space for God to do some of his deepest work in our lives. Many seasoned spiritual advisers propose that this is the only space in which radical, transformational growth occurs. God intends for us to emerge from this land radically reshaped. But the process of transformational growth will not occur automatically. Our response to God while in the Land Between is what will determine whether our journey through this desert will result in deep, positive growth or spiritual decline.

People often quote a common proverb in time of pain and tragedy: "Time heals all wounds." I do not find this statement to be necessarily true. Some people heal over time, while others become deeply embittered and acidic. The Land Between usually forces us to choose one way or the other. The conditions can prove so harsh that there seems little room for neutrality.

While offering us a greenhouse for growth, the Land Between can also be a desert where our faith goes to die — if we let it. The habits of the heart that we foster in this space — our responses and reactions — will determine whether the Land Between results in spiritual life or spiritual death. We choose.

Copyright © 2010 by Jeff Manion
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