As I sit to write, friends of ours from Boston are a few miles from our home, having stopped for a brief visit with us en route to their new town. They are in the middle of a major transition for their family; after sixteen years in Massachusetts, they are moving on to plant a church in Texas. Two hours after their arrival in Pittsburgh, they had to get back on the road. As they pulled away, the heartache set in. My four-year-old son verbalized what we were all feeling, “Why do they have to leave? I want them to stay longer!” My heart aches because I love them so much. It is a blessing that our stories overlapped. Precious memories with dear friends!
When we moved to Boston, we were pretty sure it was temporary; my husband was in graduate school. When a season of life is temporary, it’s tempting not to invest much in the people and places around you during that time. No matter how short a season, however, I would like to suggest to you that it is of extreme importance to resist that temptation.
Here are a few reasons:
1. The Lord is intentional.
2. The church is the people.
3. You don’t know the future.
Before expanding on those, allow me to share this with you:
Jesus knows a LOT about transition!
I knew it was time to sit down and write these posts the minute that thought came to mind. Jesus left glory above to come into a sin-filled world. Can you imagine a change like that? I don’t think we can. Then about thirty-three years later, he moves back to take up residence at the right hand of God. Yes, I think Jesus knows what it’s like to navigate transition. Makes me think of these verses from Hebrews 4:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
With that as our backdrop, then, let me return to the list above.
First, wherever you go, God is taking you there. Sometimes we go quite joyfully into new things; sometimes kicking and screaming (inside) like a tatruming toddler. Either way, God is still sovereign over these moments in our lives. We can enter new things with confidence that God’s good plan will come to fruition! The details are His business, trusting Him is ours. We had no idea what was in store for us in Boston! Our time there involved more years than we expected, a first child earlier than we planned, and growth in our relationship and callings through difficulties and joys. God was in it, and He’s in it where you are too. He dwells with His people, which brings us to point number two.
The body of Christ is His people. Christians should not simply attend a church. As a believer, you’ve been given gifts that need to be shared for the sake of the body and for the glory of God. In turn, those other believers around you have gifts that you need. We’re interconnected to believers in new places and situations, even before we get there, because we call Christ our Lord and Savior! Isn’t that wild? Wherever God takes you, the church needs you and you need the church. Times of transition can easily be times to check-out or only consume. But the body needs you as much as you need the body. Don’t delay in getting connected or staying connected to the church in times of transition.
Third and finally, you don’t know the future! Seems a little silly to say it out loud, doesn’t it. But, my goodness, how often I live like I think I do! (I can’t speak for you, but I’m guessing you might relate.) We make plans, imagine how things will go, and live accordingly … until we’re interrupted by school taking longer than expected, needing to choose a new advisor, a “surprise” pregnancy, getting laid off, losing a loved one, contracting an unforeseen illness or depression. Bam! A time of transition, and we have to adjust. Isn’t it good to know that while we don’t know the future, the Lord does? He cares for the sparrow; will he not surely care for His people?
Dear friends, the Lord is intentionally guiding our lives, the church is the people bound together by Christ, and the future unknown to us is foreseen and overseen by the Lord. These are just a few reasons to invest where you are, wherever you are, for however long you’re there. I’m sure there are other reasons and I’m sure many of you could give testimony to how God has used times of transition to mold and shape you more into His image. Would you share in the comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts and I know others in this community will benefit.
Even knowing these things, transition is not easy. In Part II, I share about how you can survive, and maybe even thrive!