Regardless of whether you love or dread change, it remains inevitable. Save the unchanging character of God, everything and everyone we know undergoes constant change. And beyond the never-ending constant stream of change, there are also times of life marked by even greater change, times we often call transitions. This past weekend I was able to spend time with a group of college students exploring together a faithful way of navigating the big transitions in life. More than anything, I was hoping they would see that being proactive as we head into transitions is more challenging but much more effective and joyful. Toward the end of helping you be proactive in times of change, here are some of the highlights.
Every transition is a time of opportunity. Whether the transition is qualitatively good (graduation, getting married) or bad (a threatening diagnosis), each transition presents us with valuable opportunities. Those of us tending toward the negative need to be reminded of this. New jobs may present opportunities of professional growth, more money, and more influence. Moving to a new city may present opportunities for new friendships and new avenues of service and leadership. Whether your upcoming transition is of your own planning or of God’s alone, spend time considering the potential opportunities and how to maximize them.
Every transition is a time of challenge. Perhaps you’re of the more optimistic type and need to be reminded that transitions are also times of great challenge. These can be practical challenges of having to make many decisions, having to go through the awkward first days on a new job, or being lonely in a new place. These challenges can also be intensely spiritual, as loneliness and fear open doors for the enemy’s arrows. Many I know have found their lowest spiritual experiences to be times of change. Therefore, we are wise to spend time considering what these challenges are likely to be and how to meet them.
Every transition is a call to counsel. “In an abundance of counselors, there is safety.” (Pro. 11:14) Like the newly-minted King Rehoboam, we are often offered advice from those barely qualified to give it and often tempted to ignore those whose long years we translate as out-of-touch rather than hard-won wisdom. Many transitions tend to puff up our pride with new opportunities when we ought to be turning in humility to godly counselors. While there can be encouragement in the fellowship of people who are sailing the same seas, there is rarely wisdom there. Be sure to find those who have successfully navigated the seas you’re traveling and let them guide you. Make sure your team includes Barnabas’ and Pauls.
Every transition is a call to good theology. The heart of both in maximizing opportunities and meeting challenges lies in whether we approach transitions with our eyes fixed on God. When everything is changing, we remember that God is the Father of Lights with whom there is no shadow of change (Jas. 1:17-18). When we are lonely, we remember the immanence of God and the communion we have with Christ through His Spirit. When tempted to think too highly of ourselves, we find the source of humility in a growing knowledge of God’s greatness and holiness. Perhaps the greatest gift of transitions is the provision of new and more profound ways to experience God’s grace and faithfulness.
Every transition is a call to kingdom living. At the center of everything God is doing in history is the church of Jesus Christ. Whether mysterious or obvious, in one way or another, every act of providence is designed by God to serve for the building of Christ’s kingdom. Our lives are meant to be the same, which means that times of transition are intended to bring us into greater fruitfulness and kingdom service. Practically speaking, this means considering issues related to the church before you move, not after. This means considering how the church will be helped or hurt by the choices ahead of you. Whatever God is leading you through, whether primarily positive or negative, has been designed by Him for your good and for you to be a greater blessing to others.
Therefore, every transition is a call to faith and prayer. Whether you’re more scared or excited, whether everything’s going according to plan or not, times of change are given by our unchanging God in order to draw you closer to Him. The most wise and proactive thing you can do is to commit to trusting God and giving yourself to Him in prayer.