Transitions of Life
I woke up this morning and began to think about transitions in life, and the one my family and I are in. Transitions in life are something I never handled very well on the inside. While I was able to cloak my frustration, anxiety, impatience, and doubt, they still existed within my life. Depending on the type and length, transitions can be very difficult. Transitions bring about changes and shifts in life patterns. Transitions can include moving locations, careers, jobs– transitioning parental approaches in raising teenagers or living in an empty net– getting married and having a baby. All of these and more can be considered transitions in life and events that can leave people frustrated, anxious, impatience, doubtful, and fretful.
While thinking about transitions in my life, I immediately began to think about transitions in Scripture. Israel transitioning from Egypt to the Promise Land entered my mind. And it is in Israel’s account we can learn a lot about transition; we can learn what to do and what not to do. Here are some things we can learn from Israel’s transition.
First, we must thank God for the past and what he has done in the past. Usually, rather than thanking God for what he did for them in the past, in freeing them, they desired to go back. Going back for Israel was much easier than marching towards the unknown. They were familiar with their life, what to expect, not to expect, that it was easier to go back to the comfort of a stable life, not matter what that stability looked like. We must remember to embrace the gospel and what the gospel (Jesus Christ) has done on our behalf. Focusing on the gospel in times of transition brings clarity to the fact that God loves us, is for us, and is in control.
Second, we must anticipate what God wants to do in the transition (the present). Because Israel was not excited about moving to the Promised Land, and definitely was not excited about the conditions of the transition, they many times insisted on complaining. Their complaining and grumbling kept them from seeing the greatness, goodness, affection, and love of God. If they did see it, their sight and remembrance was short lived. Even in periods of transition God wants to work, to move, to display His might and glory. What is God wanting to teach us about Himself? About ourself? About our calling? Make sure we praise God through the trials, storms, and transitions of life, so that He can continue forming us into the image of Jesu Christ.
Third, we must look to the future by looking to God. Much of the time Israel was looking to everything else, but God. They were looking to their past, yearning for their past. They were looking to their circumstance and situation, disgruntled over where they were. They were looking at the stature of the enemies they would have to fight, fretful over the potential outcome. They were looking to their gold, creating a god that they could worship because their leader was busy spending time with God. Israel looked to everything else, but God. At all times, even in transition, we must keep our eyes on Christ and what Christ wants to do with us. It is important in transition to keep the big picture of God’s grand plan in the forefront of our minds. We must keep in mind what God wants to do globally, corporately, familial, personal, and vocational. No matter what the transition is, whether it is a vocational, familial, personal, or church transition, by focusing on what God is moving to accomplish will help us keep the big picture in mind, rather than focusing solely on the present condition and situation.
Thanking God for the past, for His gift of salvation and freedom, anticipating what God wants to do in the present transition, and looking forward to the future by looking towards God, are three things we can glean from Israel’s transition. While these are things they failed to do, thereby spending forty years in the wilderness, these are three things we (those in transition) have the choice in doing today.