Transition

Hi, all.

At the time I’m writing this – and the time you’re reading this – I am in transition.

Perhaps you read an earlier blog post of mine in which I discussed this, but in the event that you didn’t.. I am beginning a new chapter in my life. I’m leaving Seattle, some of my most beloved friends, an incredible network of people and resources, and our church plant Transit Assembly, to enter a new season in Pennsylvania as the Creative Arts Sensei at CityReach Johnstown. Well, sensei may be a bit of a stretch…

Of course I’m excited about the move, and my amazing network here in Seattle is supportive and equally excited, and the new community I’ll be moving into (and helping to build) is just as supportive and excited.

And I’m probably not the first to tell you this, and you probably have found this out on your own, but transition is crazy.

Transition is scary, too.

Transition is beautiful chaos.

There have been a number of songs and Scripture verses that have almost literally carried me through the ups and downs of this major transition: the thrill of pioneering again (something I love), the fear of leaving behind stability and security, the insecurities of making new friends, the pain of leaving old friends (but definitely keeping in touch), the anticipation of being caught up in what God is doing, the joy of being a bit closer to family..

As a matter of fact, just a few minutes ago – oh, wait, has it already been an hour? – I was expressing to God in prayer that there are so many emotions inside me to be felt that I’m currently not feeling any of them. Eh, it’ll probably explode on me in a few days or so. But in the midst of all it, there is a peace deep inside me.

It’s a peace that I come close to sacrificing in favor of the much less appreciated “anxiety,” but honestly, it’s a peace I can’t shake. And thank God! There’s a song lyric I cannot get out of my heart: “What a joy it is to give my life away to You.” Surely, yes. No transition is too great. No future too foggy, no risk too frightful, no sacrifice too dear. I can’t emphasize enough how deserving God is of all of our lives, even when His requests seem to us to be hard or painful (or wonderful). There is peace and joy on the other side of obedience.

Here are a few truths that are resounding especially true for me now. And hey, dear friends, maybe you’re in a season of transition or you have been dealt an unforeseen hand in life… Let these truths inspire and minister to you, too.

  • God’s plans are to prosper you. The more “grown-up” we become and the more struggle and heartache we endure in life, sometimes the more we believe that struggle and heartache is all we have to look forward to. But what is GREATER than our struggle, pain, risk, fear, and confusion is the promise of God. ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future‘ ” (Jeremiah 29:11). These are not the words of a mere person who is apt to change his mind or go back on his word. God is faithful to His promises, and His Word is to be trusted. No matter what you are facing, no matter how difficult your transition, no matter how painful your present state, you can be absolutely certain that God works all things out for the good (Romans 8:28), because He is good.
  • God provides. Too often we doubt that God will actually deliver on His promises, and yet, He has actually never given us a single reason to doubt. If we doubt that God provides, it’s because we forget that He’s already all we need. And listen, you can’t be a worrywart and be filled with peace at the same time; you either bow down and worship Worry, or you bow down and worship Jesus Christ.

Jesus says, “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25-33). 

  • God honors our faith and surrender. Surrender is such a scary word. It means that we voluntarily forfeit our ideas, our plans, our hopes, and our will. I can be a pretty competitive person, so the notion of surrender sounds exactly the opposite of what I want to do. But God can do very little with someone filled with self and pride. We must allow the Holy Spirit to empty us of ourselves so as to make room for what He intends for us to do and be. And when we do begin to submit to the lordship of Christ, we begin to interpret things with God-perspective. We experience true freedom. We become positioned to receive honor and blessing, and we become a conduit of God’s generosity for others. Friends, let’s get ourselves out of the way! Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
Of course, there are many more principles that could very well apply. One of the few constants in life is change, ironically enough. This I know: as long as there are people that haven’t called on the Lord Jesus for salvation, God will always ask us to go… go, and spread truth, peace, and hope. And as long as we are this side of Heaven, God will ask us to shift and move and bend and give and go, sometimes not for anyone else’s sake, but for our own spiritual development.
Well, friends, I sincerely pray you find some encouragement in the words of this blog.
Please remember me in prayer often as I transition. From my heart, thank you. And for those of you also in transition, I am trusting for God’s absolute best over your life.
Onward we go!
Josh

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