Linger-land or Ladder-land

©Joy Dunlap

“You’re in Linger-land,” I said to my friend who shared about her lack of progress on a long-time dream.  Her idea has merit and could help others but she’s still at the starting gate.

I recognized the signs of Linger-land.  I have been there.

Danger Ahead.  Watch for Curves. Tornado Shelter. 

Those types of signs in our minds stop us from advancing. Trap us where we are.  Create fear of the future.

Whenever we begin to progress, they pop in.

Speed Bumps Ahead.  Road Closed.  Dead End.

We envision roadblocks, unexpected detours, cliff slides.

The truth is some of those will likely happen.  Life is full of twists and turns, detours and delights, sorrow and smiles.

Think about the difference between a Linger-land and a Ladder-land.  Unlike Linger-land, Ladder-land is motion oriented and progress focused. “Free Parking” is the enticement in Linger-land.

Ladders illustrate an upward climb.  Each step moves us closer to where we are trying to go.  We need to take the first step before we can take the next or the next.  Even when we reach the top step, we sometimes must reach up and stretch beyond where the ladder steps take us.

Linger-land has merits. In the stillness and calmness of introspection and reflection, we can often see ourselves, our attributes and improvement areas more clearly. However, when we get stuck there – or keep returning there – that’s when Linger-land turns into a wasteland of time and talent.

As we dawdle, we delay, and dreams dry up or disappear.

The way forward is to trust and step on the ladder, listening for guidance step by step.

When the Israelites headed for the Promised Land and got stuck in the desert, they complained they should never have started the journey.

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”  Exodus 16:2-3 NIV

God had parted the Red Sea for them.  Allowed them to escape from slavery. Provided water in the desert for them.  Yet they questioned God’s guidance and His presence.

And he {Moses} called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:7 NIV

The decision to trust God when we are in the desert is sometimes more difficult than in a storm. In a storm, we believe there is way out – a place where life is less chaotic or tumultuous – but when we are in a desert or Linger-land (which may be full of enticing comforts), it can be hard to move forward to where God is calling us.  The journey ahead is unclear, unsure, and possibly unsafe.

Whether striving on a career path, seeking to settle in a new community, hoping for a loved one to share life, pursuing ministry, growing in our faith, coming out of one of life’s strongholds, or fighting fear, God is still available to take the lead – if we let Him.

Jesus, Take the Wheel captured the hearts of listeners after Carrie Underwood performed it on American Idol.  With its simple yet impactful lyrics and refrain, the song soared into a platinum crossover hit.  Even people who hadn’t narrowly avoided a car crash or weren’t particularly religious connected with the song’s elements of being scared, feeling out of control, and hoping for another chance.

Whether in our Christian walk or in the work God calls us to do, a soul-searching examination of whether we are in Linger-land or Ladder-land is warranted.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10 NIV

If we’re stuck, how can we move out of Linger-land?

  • Ask God for confirmation on what He wants us to do, guidance for our steps and courage to leave our comfort zone.
  • Identify the next significant move we need to make.
  • Set a timeline to accomplish that step.
  • Speak the dream. Tell others about the goal and get them to help hold us accountable.
  • Educate ourselves on what will help us keep moving. Take steps to learn and grow.
  • See excuses for what they too often are: unproductive procrastination.
  • Celebrate movement not just the goal.
  • Cheer other on their journeys.
  • Create community. Others can encourage and support us when we falter and struggle to move forward.
  • Keep climbing.

What dream, idea or project are you stalled on?  Why are you lingering? 

Which logical step is the next one you will commit to take to move forward?

If you’re not in Linger-land, who are you helping to lift out of it? 

In what ways are you using your God-given gifts? 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

Life Is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™

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