How do you make the right transition, to the right place, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way? The question itself is fear-inducing enough to stay where you’re at, isn’t it?
I’m on the other side of the greatest leap of faith in my life.
The journey leading up to the transition, the leap itself, and what I’m learning on the other side has led to a desire to better understand the main ingredients of good transitions. Transitions set future trajectory in ways we never predict, and the fear of getting it wrong can be paralyzing. In the following posts, I’ll explore the spiritual, emotional, and relational dynamics of life transitions.
Hope it helps you on the journey!
Yes or No?
Our home was completely empty. Everything we owned was in the moving truck and an eerie echo now accompanied our conversations. So many memories…now boxed up. It’s the only home our kids have known, directly behind my brother’s family, and two houses down from the house I grew up in. We’re leaving our first church, the church where my entire family was baptized, and where I’ve been a pastor for almost twelve years.
Why are we doing it?
The short answer is that God clearly said, “Go.” Not just to me. In fact, our kids sensed they heard from the Lord before I did. Our family and close mentors had the same sense. Some friends felt the Lord leading them to join us before we had even made the decision. We had repeated and, in a few situations, even miraculous confirmations about the decision. So, the short answer is we’ve clearly heard from the Lord.
The long answer is more complex, painful, and hopefully helpful.
Through the discerning process, I’ve learned a few things about “yes’s” and “no’s.”
Every “yes” is ten thousand “no’s.”
Too many “yes’s” is no “yes.”
A half-hearted “yes,” is a disguised “no.”
A presumptuous “yes,” is a “no” to the right “yes.”
All of the Above
One of the miraculous confirmations came from a woman I had just met. Her first words to me were, “There is a Scripture I believe the Lord wants me to share with you.” She read Abraham’s calling in Genesis 12:1, “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” She closed the Bible, and said, “I believe you’re supposed to leave your father’s land and accept a call to a new season of ministry in a new place.” Again, this was the first time we had met and these were the first words she spoke. Two weeks before, a woman asked me, “What is it about you and Pennsylvania? I keep seeing you in dreams speaking in Pennsylvania.”
I had been wrestling with Abraham’s story and the stark, “either/or” quality of His calling. God simply says to Abraham, “Go, and I’ll show you.” “Leave everything behind and take a left at the end of the street. I’ll tell you the next turn when you get there.”
I imagine Abraham responding, “What!? No! Show me first! Then I’ll go.” “In fact, better idea, let’s just do it here. This is a great place for a ‘promised land.’” “No?” “Are you sure? This place has a lot of potential.” “Okay, well then can I commute back and forth to the promised land?”
There are a lot of temptations when it comes to the either/or quality of faith journeys.
So, how do you know when it’s time to say, “Yes!” to an important transition?
Watch Your Posture & Pacing.
During our own transition, a statement of Jesus in John 5:19 gripped my imagination, “I only do what I see the Father doing.” His will and the Father’s were completely aligned. He took strange detours, spent time with unexpected people, and often made puzzling decisions from a purely strategic perspective. Why? His only will was to do the will of the Father.
Is that my posture?
Can I press beyond presumptuousness, self-interest, and fear to live the prayer, “God, help me to be fully present to you and what you’re doing in this moment?”
Future uncertainties can easily distract from present opportunities.
Another realization during our transition was that the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way is the wrong thing. It’s faithful to wait and pray when you’re unclear of the right direction. Avoiding preoccupation and a practical atheism is always a good thing. It’s not faithful, however, to wait and pray when God has clearly said, “Go!”
It is tempting to delay obedience on a difficult faith journey and offer God certain “sacrifices” instead. It is also tempting to dissect clear revelations through deep introspection until you kill it. This is why we need to make as many decisions on the ‘mountain top’ irrevocable as we can.
The visions of the work I’m now doing started to form several years ago but it was not time to act on them. Sometimes, there are pre-labor contractions that do not signal active birth. It’s a time of preparation and should be met with deliberate prayer, fasting, and wise counsel.
In the faith journey’s described in the Bible, there is often a gap separating vision and fulfillment. Unfortunately, the gap can be inexplicably and excruciatingly long. So long, in fact, that the people get frustrated and eventually distracted from the journey and choose to take a more ‘expedient’ route to the supposed fulfillment.
Such stories are good warnings for us. Expect a longer and more circuitous path, rather than a short, clean, and linear one, where times of testing in the wilderness separate you and the promised fulfillment.
And then when the journey brings you to the chasm, you get only one jump.
You can’t take baby steps across a chasm.
You jump or you don’t jump.
That’s for next week.
For now, think about this question, “Can I press beyond presumptuousness, self-interest, and fear to live the prayer, ‘God, help me to be fully present to you and what you’re doing in this moment?’” Can you make that your prayer this week? It’s good to release outcomes and timetables and ask God, “Father, help me today to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the right things.”
May God ground you deeply in His love, fill you with an abundance of joy and peace, and bless you with a clear sense of His presence!
See you next week!