We’ve been in St. Louis this week helping one of our daughters and her family as they transition to a new stage in their lives.
As the movers were packing their kitchen and I tried to stay out of the way, I thought about transition. In many ways, this transition should be easier than many they have made the last few years. Her husband won’t be a student anymore…or a missionary. He will be back in the working world like he once was. They aren’t moving far from where they live right now. Their children won’t have to change schools. They will stay in the same church. These should simplify this transition from some of their more recent ones for sure!
They will be moving to a house from their tiny cramped student apartment. That will be a plus as well. Having more space to move around in for their growing family of four will simplify their lives for sure! One thing they will miss however, will be the community of the playground outside their door.
The playground, where life was real!
The children there were a microcosm of the campus community…and human nature! What interesting characters they were! Watching them as they played together and formed alliances…or argued over the things children disagree over was always a treat for me. They were all so unique and individual in their styles. Their moms or dads would visit together while the kids played, stopping to correct and train…often trying not to yell as their children did not always bend in the directions they wanted.
These children of future pastors, christian counselors and other christian professionals are just as marred with sin as anyone else. They are also charming, cute and often precocious. That is the story of life in this world isn’t it? It is full of all kinds of people and we need to learn to get along with them. The most common command on the playground was to share. It so does not come naturally does it? We don’t have to be close friends with everyone, but we need to get along…and share.
Some days it is easier to do than on other days. We always need GOD’s grace, but some days, we are aware of needing truckloads of it!
Almost all of us are in some kind of transition
While many of us aren’t transitioning from being students, we are still making transitions. Sometimes they are large transitions…having a new child, sending one off to college or marriage; Downsizing to a smaller home, adjusting to a new job with a different salary (higher or lower), moving to a new part of the country; Transitioning in terms of health concerns…starting to have new health concerns that are becoming chronic, adjusting to a new diagnosis that may even be life-threatening…and the list goes on. Other times they are smaller, but change is part of life! Often it is happening all around us when we aren’t aware of it as friends move away or move on from your church to another one.
GOD is present if you are His child, during any transition
Whatever your area of transition, one thing is for sure, GOD is present. It may not always feel like it, but He is. During times when the transition is of the sort that we don’t want…loss of a job, downturn in health, a divorce that you didn’t seek out or a marriage gone sour that you wanted to work, to name a few. He is near.
The person who speaks most adamantly about this is Joni Eareckson Tada…someone who has been paralyzed since the age of 17 from a diving accident and is now in her 60’s. I listen to a person like this. She knows what she is talking about to an extent that I don’t. When I say it, it is still truth, but hearing it from her adds an exclamation point! Often He provides people in your life who remind you of His presence…or who are so strongly present that you feel it through their love and care for you. cf. Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 34:18
GOD has purpose behind any transition no matter how random it seems to appear
Also, there is purpose behind what is happening. These transitions can often appear random at first. But they are not. Many hate to hear that. For me, it has been encouraging. I hate to think that anything that happens, especially if it is difficult, is simply random. As it turns out, nothing is truly random. There is a GOD who is working in our universe in a very purposeful way not only for groups of people but for his purposes for individuals as well. cf. I Peter 2:9-10, Job 42:2, Psalm 57:1-3,
Often, you won’t have a clue regarding His purposes until long after the event(s) so don’t expect to right away and certainly don’t expect others around you to know what those purposes are! They don’t know your heart. Only GOD does. That works both ways. He knows the depths of your sin and He knows the times when we had glimmers of desires to do right…and no one else saw it. cf. Isaiah 55:6-9,
So as you work your way through your latest transition…whether it is a fun one or a difficult one, you will find it to be stressful. There is no doubt. Even the fun transitions are stressful. Job changes, new babies, moves…all are listed among the highest numbers on the scale of points for stress. Often, they come together in one big package!
We had a few different years like that! It was wild…and hard! Even with all those nice things in them, they were hard, stressful years too. They were full of adjustments and change, some that we weren’t anticipating. The learning curves were steeper than expected. The challenges were many.
But GOD graciously intervened. Often we were humbled…very frequently that was the case! We learned much…from GOD and often from fellow Christians who cared enough to intervene in our lives. Their wisdom was helpful. Often if was even more helpful than we realized at the time!
He has provided community for support in the form of the Church…make use of it!
The older I get the more I recognize the importance of a strong Christian community to be found in your Church! You need it. They need you. You need them…sacrificing for each other. Loving one another in concrete ways that show you love and care for them and they love and care for you.
Sometimes you have a shared ministry in common. At others, you are in the same small group. Still other times, you will have joined the church together and know each other that way. However GOD brought you together, you share a closeness that needs to translate to encouragement from GOD’s Word, prayer and growth in grace as you meet together to worship on Sundays and at other times. cf. Matthew 18:19-20
If you don’t have a strong Christian community in your church, you need to pray and ask GOD to lead you to people to bring it together. He will… as you gather around His Word and pray together.
It doesn’t have to be long-winded prayers or complicated Bible study. But the heart of our commonality is Jesus Christ, His Word and our ability to come to Him with our honest needs, concerns and to worship Him…Someone much larger than any circumstance we are facing.
***It has taken me a little too long to get this posted thanks to a very busy time here in St. Louis. Blessings to you today:) By the time I was done, I think this turned into 2 posts, but they were so intertwined I couldn’t unbraid them within my time frame.