It’s Transition Time
CBN.com – It’s transition time. All over the Kingdom of God and throughout the Church the word of the hour is “transition”. We keep hearing that but what does it mean. Are we all in transition? If so, is your transition going to spill over and affect my transition?
It does seem as if God is telling the whole Christian body to take a few steps forward. In those steps, we’ll probably step on each others feet. I imagine there’s going to be more than a few of us pushing and shoving. Some of us are going to want to move forward. Others will want to stand still or move backwards.
Let’s face it; God’s will is always changing us. He is always transforming us and molding us to be something different than we are. In the Word, God even refers to Himself as a potter and we are His clay. It’s an easy image to see. A lump of clay is shaped into a vessel and then refined in the fire until it is becomes purified and hardened. Only then is worthy of use.
Change is never comfortable but it is a fact of life and it is the will of God. We are changed as we grow in age and maturity. We are changed when we accept Christ into our hearts. We are changed as we move deeper into a relationship with God and accept His will in our lives.
God is refining us in His furnance. God is molding us into vessels that glorify Him. This time of transition is going to make us feel uncomfortable but it is God’s will. We all have certain things in life that we want and even have planned for. Some of those plans will undoubtedly be disrupted. Don’t fret.
Here’s what the Bible says:
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)
God’s purpose is going to happen no matter what you and I plan. We need to be patient with each other as never before. In other words, we’re going to have look and act like Christians. We’re going to have to bear one another’s burdens and be willing to overlook each others faults. We’re going to have to learn to let those very real hurts and offenses go quickly. We’re going to have to react out of love instead reacting out of spite. It’s not going to be easy. God’s Word says He is returning for a Church without spot or wrinkle. How will we ever be that Church without going through the fire of refinement? We must press in and through.
If transition is the word of the hour, humility is the path to peace. If we act out of humble hearts we will demonstrate to ourselves and to God that we are the people He wants us to be. Only then will Jesus be glorified and only then will the world see a group of loving and united believers fulfilling their destiny. Now is the time of harvest. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be frightened. Be encouraged!! It’s promotion time!! But we must enter in like never before. We must be servants towards each other.
Here are our marching orders. Here is the blueprint to live a life worthy of our calling. Here is the way to walk by faith and not by sight:
Philippians 2 says,
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.”
We were recently on a vacation when God interrupted my plans. My family and I had traveled hundreds of miles to stay at a hotel on the beach. I had made arrangements to spend one day visiting with friends. But then, in the middle of the night, the night before my scheduled day out, one of my kids woke up sick. I spent the whole next day stuck inside, staring out the hotel window at the long stretch of beach that was just outside of my reach.
An Interrupted Life
My life is filled with interruptions, inconveniences, frustrations, and unexpected events. Things break. Accidents happen. The phone rings just as I climb into bed. Traffic makes me late. Just when we don’t need another added expense, an appliance breaks. Unexpected illnesses change my carefully crafted plans. I could go on and on. You probably could too.
The problem is, I usually handle these interruptions to my life poorly. I react with frustration and anger. Like a young child, I want to stomp my feet and say, “It’s not fair!” I blame others for inconveniencing me. I’ll even throw my own pity parties.
“Small frustrations and interruptions give us opportunities to rely on God.”
Though these interruptions are unexpected and catch me off guard, they do not catch God off guard. They are not random, meaningless events. In fact, these interruptions are divinely placed in my path for a reason. God uses these interruptions to change me to be more like Christ.
Slow traffic, a sick child, or a costly home repair may not seem like important tools in our sanctification, but they are. We often overlook these interruptions and inconveniences and instead expect God to work in our lives through huge life-changing circumstances. But the reality is, we often won’t have major events in our life that cause us to trust God and obey him in some deeply profound way. We won’t be called to build an ark or take an only child up Mount Moriah. Rather, it’s in these small frustrations and interruptions, the little things in our life, where we are given opportunities to rely on God, to obey him, and to bring him glory.
Paul Tripp puts it like this:
You and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts. (Whiter Than Snow, 21)
Interruptions of Grace
These ten thousand little moments come in the form of our children asking us to play a game with them when we are tied up with something else. They are moments like when we get stuck behind a school bus when we’re already late to an appointment, or when we have a flat tire on the way to work. They are in all those moments all throughout the day when things don’t go our way, our plans fail, and our life is interrupted.
It’s these moments where the rubber meets the road — where our faith is stretched and we look down to see whether we are standing on rock or sand. Do we really believe that God is in control of all the details of our life? Do we really believe that his grace is sufficient to get us through the day? Do we really believe that the gospel of Christ is powerful enough not only to save us for eternity, but also to sustain and strengthen us in the midst of life’s interruptions? Do we really believe that Christ is enough to satisfy all the deepest needs of our heart?
These interruptions are acts of God’s grace. They force us to work through these questions. They make us face our sin. They are God’s way of taking off our blinders and making us see that we need the gospel in every moment of the day. They are a light that shines on the darkest recesses of our heart, revealing the truth of what’s really there — the sins and idols that we’ve pushed off into the corner, thinking that if we can’t see them, they must not exist.
The Reminder We Need
These interruptions remind us that we don’t have life figured out and that we can’t do it on our own. They are like the Shepherd’s rod, pulling us back from our wandering ways, back to our Great Shepherd. We need these interruptions. Like nothing else, they push us to the cross of Christ where we must remember the gospel and receive his grace and forgiveness.
“Christ cares more about our transformation than about our daily comfort.”
It’s hard to see all the little frustrating events and interruptions in our day as divinely placed opportunities to grow in grace, but they are. And seeing them as such helps us take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Christ, who cares more about our transformation than about our daily comfort. Rather than giving us a life of ease, he interrupts our lives with grace and shows us what we need most of all: himself.
How about you? Is your life filled with interruptions? Do you see God’s hand at work in them?
God’s Plan for Your Potential
I’m sure my list would be completely different from yours, or maybe you look at me and assume I don’t have a list. Oh, I have two: one from Child Me and one from Current Me.
Child Me wanted naturally blonde hair, because somehow it seemed like they had more fun and were more popular. Child Me wanted blue eyes to go with the blonde hair. I wanted my jeans to be a certain brand and my shirts to have a certain look. Oh, and to be smart, you know, on the A/B honor roll. These things seem silly now that I’m grown, but grown women have lists, too.
Current Me wants to be 20 pounds lighter and have wrinkles only on clothes (not my face). I’d love to know what she knows about the Bible (whoever she is). And it would be fantabulous if my house could stay clean like hers. This ideal she is further along in ministry than I am, and I started before she did! Current Me still has so much work to do.
That’s what we do, isn’t it? We habitually compare our insides, how we feel about ourselves, to another’s outside, how they look, to determine our value and sum up our potential — appearance, accomplishments and assets.
Out in the world, we have to prove our abilities, demonstrate our intellect, and establish our authority in order to show we are useful and worthwhile. But what about in a safe, supposedly judgment-free zone, like church? Do we think we have to prove ourselves there, too? Do we make assumptions about someone’s worth based on what they do or how they look? Without pause, yes, yes, we do. We look at her outside — appearance, accomplishments and other assets — and assume her faith is just as strong.
May I ask you to answer a few questions honestly? Not necessarily out loud, or even on paper where someone might see your answers, but answer them just for yourself:
- Do I allow the echo of fears and faults to silence God’s voice?
- Do I dwell on failures and let them determine my direction?
- Do I worry my frailties disqualify me from doing any good work for God?
If you answered yes to just one of these questions, then your faith, my friend, is wounded. Fractured. Splintered. Ruptured. No longer in its original design or even what it once was before life happened to you.
God designed our faith to be Christ-centered, Spirit-led and Word-fed. Somehow, so many of us have gotten off track.
We spend our energy trying to conquer our fears, correct our faults, get over our failures and accept our frailties, only to discover we still have fears, faults, failures and frailties. The self-help books haven’t helped. The Bible studies change our perspective for a while. However, when the next crisis arises, we fall right back into wrong patterns.
I want to say something that may sound a little harsh, momentarily make you mad, and quite possibly give you an overwhelming desire to stop reading this devotion. So, I ask you to trust me enough to read the next entire statement below, pause to think through the words, and perhaps even pray: What if God’s plan isn’t to “fix” the things that have fractured your faith but instead to show His power through them, making your faith stronger than ever?
God has such good words for us, friends! “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). He will move in us to accomplish the work He has planned for us. God sees our potential even when we can’t and considers us worthwhile just the way we are.
Streams in the Desert – March 5
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end (Heb 3:14).
It is the last step that wins; and there is no place in the pilgrim’s progress where so many dangers lurk as the region that lies hard by the portals of the Celestial City. It was there that Doubting Castle stood. It was there that the enchanted ground lured the tired traveler to fatal slumber. It is when Heaven’s heights are full in view that hell’s gate is most persistent and full of deadly peril. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” “So run, that ye may obtain.”
In the bitter waves of woe
Beaten and tossed about
By the sullen winds that blow
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors that faith has cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast
To the things that cannot fail.
And fierce though the fiends may fight,
And long though the angels hide,
I know that truth and right
Have the universe on their side;
And that somewhere beyond the stars
Is a love that is better than fate.
When the night unlocks her bars
I shall see Him—and I will wait.
The problem of getting great things from God is being able to hold on for the last half hour.