How does that old saying go? “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Seems that my family is entering another season of transition: Joshua is entering his Middle School years, David is off to college, Rebekah is finishing college, and we are moving (again). As we navigate these changes over the next few months, we are seeking God’s wisdom and provision. We are asking questions that will only be answered by some sort of divine intervention. I write all this not to solicit advice, but rather to seek prayer for His provision and direction in the days ahead from those who are so inclined.
Transitions come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone goes through times of relocation, recalibration and recuperation. We cannot eliminate transitions, but we can anticipate them and appreciate them. Transitions offer us all the opportunity to eliminate the clutter that accumulates in life and acknowledge the course corrections that every life must experience. Transitions provide us with times to cleanse ourselves from the toxins that sap us of life and place us in environments for growth. Transitions, like every form of change, are truly challenging, but when navigated properly they can be a blessing.
The author of Hebrews has wisdom from God for all those entering into a season change:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2
We need heed God’s advice to run the race of our life with perseverance. According to Merriam-Webster, perseverance is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. Life is fraught with difficulties, failure, or opposition that can either frustrate us or fuel us. God’s encouragement to all of us is to continue exerting the effort necessary to accomplish our goals.
We need to contemplate that there is a course marked out for us by the creator of the universe. We each have a unique path, filled with peaks and valleys, that we are called to complete. We could, I suppose, choose to run someone else’s race and reach a place that will not fully satisfy, but it would be better to remain on the road that God has established to bring us where we ought to go.
We need to fix our eyes on Jesus: He has run this race before and now waits for us at the finish line. He is the pioneer (or author or source) of our faith – He is the one who is trustworthy and reliable. He is the perfecter of our faith – He is the one who teaches us how to finish strong and avoid the distractions that drown our dreams. He will lead us to the right and proper places when we trust in Him.
Would it be easier if life was absent of adversity, where we all were following the same formula and where it all works out in the end? Sure. But life is not like that. Our lives are continually in flux and difficulties and detours must be expected. Thankfully, we have a focal point, our Savior, who waits for us at our ‘forever’ home. All we need to do is stay on course until we reach the finish line.
If you have been reading this blog throughout the last four years, you know that my family has experienced a great deal of change over that period of time. It always seemed to me that change was cyclical; I was under the impression that there were seasons of transition and seasons of tranquility. Through the process of musing about life and ministry on a weekly basis I have come to realize that change is present every moment – we are all continually changing biologically, economically, spiritually, and relationally. Change is not some terrible thing we endure; change is a sometimes good thing that we can choose to embrace.
While change is constant, it is much like the tides in that there is variety in the intensity of the waves. My family’s present two and a half weeks are more like conditions for surfing rather than sailing as we watch the whitecaps wash over us. Last Saturday, we hugged our daughter goodbye at college, knowing that we’d not see her sweet face for more than a month. Last Tuesday, we hugged Jeanine’s brother goodbye as we drove home to Boston and he drove to chemotherapy in Baltimore. Next Wednesday, we will place all our worldly possessions in a moving van and the following day unload them a few blocks away. And finally, on Thursday, September 8, we’ll send David off to tenth grade and Joshua off to third grade.
If I were in charge, I would not have chosen any of these transitions for myself or my family: Rebekah could stay home, Stephen would not suffer from the end stages of cancer (if I made the decision, he’d never have cancer at all), we would have remained in the condo that has been home for the past three years and the boys would never get older. If I had my way, Rebekah would never make new friends or gain new experiences, Stephen would never know how strong he really is, we’d never impact a different neighborhood and the boys would lie on their beds playing video games all day. You see my point: I would not choose change, even if it were good for me.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)
When we, as a family, go to the beach, the boys and I try to body surf. As I tell them, the best thing to do is follow two rules: First, lean into the smaller waves or they will knock you over; and second, jump just before the bigger wave crests and allow it to carry you to the shallows. In many ways, that is what I am trying to do these days: lean in and then enjoy the ride. So, I will brace myself when the texts go unanswered, when the diagnosis is pending, when the boxes get heavy and the house is quiet. I will enjoy the updates that she is making friends, that the drug is working, that the new house brings new opportunities and that I have another three years before another one leaves the nest.
Lord willing, there will be a stretch of smooth sailing for all of us in the days ahead. Whatever may be lying just beyond the horizon, I trust that God knows how to use it for my growth. And, oh, what an adventure awaits us with Him.