Summer holidays have arrived. The kids are on summer break from school. Normal routine has gone out the window. It always takes a few days to adjust to this new normal. Like jet lag when you travel the first few days are rough, but over time your body begins to adjust.
Seasons of change arrive with the ebb and flow of life, whether it’s having babies, changing jobs, graduating those babies from school, moving to a new community or retiring. Each stage, and season, of life presents a turn in the road, sometimes without a GPS to direct you.
Feeling exhausted with numerous decisions needing to be made, uncertain about how to move forward, insecure over how these changes will affect family life and, perhaps, discouraged trying to keep track of new names and faces.
On the one hand, you’re confident in God’s leading for this moment in time, but, on the other hand, everything feels so out of control you can’t seem to stop the doubt from creeping in.
So when we face transitions here’s a few things to remember.
On Saying Goodbye
During our comings and goings while we lived in East Africa, we’d often say “see you later” instead of “goodbye.” I think it was because we sometimes couldn’t choke out the g-word, but it also reminded us we were coming back, Lord willing.
But, when life changes we’re not going back; we’re not returning to the way things were, so it’s necessary to learn to say goodbye well.
On his journey to Rome, Paul called the elders from Ephesus to say goodbye (Acts 20:17-38). Their 70km trek wasn’t a walk in the park, but leaving them well was important to Paul, and he did that by recounting their time together.
As we leave a season, a place or a position behind, we need to take time to remember, to reflect on what we enjoyed, how we grew, lessons we want to take with us and also what we struggled with, the things that were hard, and areas in our life we need to confess and repent of in order to mature.
Leaving a season can be hard, but it’s worth pondering and savoring the past, like you would your favourite ice cream on a hot day. You can’t hang onto the cone forever, it’s probably already melting and dripping onto your hands, but as you taste it, you’re refreshed.
Learning Acceptance in the Confusion
It’s harder than you expected.
Making friends, beginning a new ministry, getting into a new routine, it all sounds pretty simple, but you can’t help but feel surprised when it’s not as smooth as you thought it would be.
Our first weeks in our African village were a huge challenge, not just the obvious cultural and language barriers, but also the hostility we faced. It meant a lot of time on my knees seeking the Lord and surrendering to His leading rather than my own desire for ease.
The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian church he came to them “in weakness and in fear, and much trembling…so that your faith may not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:3,5). Even though we want to move ahead into the new with bold confidence, the greater impact is our dependence.
We learn to accept what we can’t control and manage the things we can. We order our priorities, figuring out a new daily routine to incorporate spiritual disciplines and habits for us personally and our family.
Embracing the New
I’ll admit, when we boarded that plan to East Africa for the first time, I was thrilled. I didn’t look back; it was tunnel vision all the way. Knowing this moment was a mark on the path He was leading us on, I felt confident and motivated.
We got to know our teammates, eagerly taking in language and culture. We could set goals and make plans. Encouraging each other at each success and contribution, marking our progress on the journey.
Paul concluded his farewell to the Ephesian elders with a warning and an exhortation (Acts 20:31-32) to stay alert for those who would malign the gospel and to stay abiding in Christ. He was looking ahead at his departure, knowing the elders would lead without his direct oversight, so as they began a new season, he wanted them to remain watchful and connected to the Lord.
Growing Through the Seasons
The path through change isn’t linear. We’ll find ourselves wavering between remembrance of the past and embracing the future. Different circumstances will come up and you’ll find yourself cycling through all the emotions again.
It’s interesting that the opposite of transition is sameness or stagnation. When it comes to holiness in the Christian life, we don’t want to remain the same. The Westminster Catechism (Q.35) reminds us sanctification involves our ongoing renewal into God’s image, as we become increasingly enabled to both die to sin and to live righteously - it’s not a stagnate process.
Rather, by God’s grace we continually grow and He uses these times of change as a gift to us, the opportunity to wrestle through life, deepen our trust, and practice living out what we believe, all for His glory and the good of those around us.
So as you navigate the season before you, be encouraged that God has not left you to walk this alone. Though moments of doubt and confusion creep in, He has you where He wants you to be. It’s not totally clear yet, but it’s no surprise to Him.
May, “the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Num 6:24-26).