I was reading a post on difficult transitions yesterday and it got me thinking about a lot of different difficult seasons in my life. Not all of my transitions have been difficult. Some of them were short and sweet. Barely perceptible. But anytime I use a phrase like, I am in a season of transition right now, it is a safe bet that things are pretty tough.
When I think about transition one of the places that I always get taken back to is when Emily and I were expecting our first child. I go there not just because the birth of your first child is one of life’s more monumental transitions, but also because of what I learned about the transition phase of labor as we anticipated our daughter’s arrival.
In labor transition happens as the body adjusts for the last few centimeters of dilation. It is also the time that the baby gets positioned in the birth canal. For many women this is accompanied by an overwhelming urge to push. However, if the mother is still in transition then it is possible that the cervix is not fully dilated, or that the baby is not yet properly positioned, or both. Pushing too hard at that point can cause the baby to bear down on the uterus, and swelling from the pressure can reverse dilation. So, pushing in transition can be counterproductive to the birthing process, and potentially dangerous for both mother and child.
Interesting. Transition brings about an overwhelming urge to push. Yet, pushing when you are in transition can be counterproductive, or even dangerous.
In Scripture we often see people pushing in transition. Sarai and Abram pushed in transition when they devised a plan for fulfilling God’s promise for an heir (see Genesis 16). Jephthah pushed in transition when he tried to bargain with God for a victory he had already been promised (see Judges 11). Saul pushed in transition when he could not wait for Samuel’s arrival to consecrate the army for battle (see 1 Samuel 13). There are countless examples. Sometimes the consequences seem delayed and innocuous, but many times they are immediate and deadly.
But there are some other things to consider about transition. We often perceive transition to be a crisis, and from the examples mentioned already obviously it can indeed be a crisis. However, the word for crisis in modern Hebrew comes from the ancient biblical word for birthstool. Often what we perceive to be a crisis is in fact new life that is trying to come forth. And yes, sometimes that new life only comes forth through much travail, but there are other times when it simply comes forth with a simple call.
We have three children (with a fourth on the way), and when we are in the everyday transition of walking out the door any one of our three children is likely to suddenly stop in mid-transition and stare off into space, causing the rest of us to come to a screeching halt. Unless we are stressed from running late it is actually quite comical. But stressed or not I am amazed at the fix to this particular form of being stuck in transition. I simply call the hampered child’s name. And at that point they snap out of their pause and carry on.
So, if you are in transition here are four important things to remember:
- Your overwhelming urge to push is a natural sign of transition.
- But it may not be time to respond to your overwhelming urge to push.
- Once you manage to stop yourself you might space off.
- Once you hear your Father call your name it is time to move forward.
Whatever stage of transition you are in you can take solace knowing this. Transition doesn’t last as long as you fear, it is more predictable than you believe, and it will bring you the joy of new life on the other side. So. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Another perspective is to stop trying to give life to Ishmael and instead wait on the promise of Isaac. Everything happens in on a time frame: ours v. God. When we push the agenda on our timetable, we will often miss the blessing that God has promised on His timetable.
If God has promised you something, then wait on it. I’ve written numerous devotions on this topic over the last three years. I have learned in my life that waiting upon the Lord is the best move. However, there is a caveat in “waiting upon the Lord.” Sometimes, we can be hesitant or even reluctant to “step out onto the water” and do what Jesus said, “Come.” The need for reliance upon the Spirit is key here to knowing when to wait and when to step out.
Case in point, Peter could have stepped out on the Sea of Galilee and walked on water at anytime IF he’d had faith in God to do so. However, he was not strong enough in his faith PRIOR to seeing Jesus doing it. At that very moment, he drew up enough faith to say, “Lord, if that’s you, command me to come to you.” Jesus replied with a simple, “Come.”
We know from the story that Peter sank into the water. Why? He took his eyes off of the one who called him out onto the water, the Messiah. The same is true with Abram and Sarai, Jephthah, Saul, and all the others in scripture. They got antsy, just couldn’t wait on God, and had to “do something” to start the mission and get the job done. The caution here is that if you push to soon, you can not only be counterproductive in the delivery of the baby but cause an abortion of the child. Premature births often resulted in death prior to modern medicine and science.
Other times if we wait too long to act on God’s word, we will miss the boat. I give you an anecdotal example. In a certain city, the rains came down for 40 days and 40 nights. The waters rose and rose to the heights of the tallest mountains. As the waters poured down, the people ran up to the boat and began beating upon the door to be let in, but God had already shut the door. Those inside listened to the voice of God and did as He said while the rest perished in great deluge.
In another location, something similar happened. The rains came and flooded a small rural town. As the waters rose, a disciple of Jesus climbed out onto the roof of his house. He sat down to pray while observing the waters. He said, “Lord, please don’t let me die and get me out of this mess.” Well, for some time nothing happened, but then a man came by in a canoe. This man offered to take the man to safety, but the disciple refused. He said God would rescue him. Again this happened twice with the same man in the canoe coming by to offer assistance. Each time he was refused. Finally, the frustrated disciple looked up toward heaven in despair and cried out, “God how long will you let me sit here? Will you not save me?” God replied, “I sent a canoe three times, but you wouldn’t get in. What else was I supposed to do?”
Personally, I am a missionary evangelist who is in that stage of flux. I know the word given to me by God and the promise of ministry here at home and abroad. When I first received this word, I tried to make the promise come true. I birthed an Ishmael and suffered the consequences and setbacks from my actions. Now that I have learned to be patient and wait upon God to do things in His timing, I know that ministry will be a blessing. I wanted to rush right out, sell everything, and hit the mission field. However, God knew that I was not fully prepared to go at that time. He’s been working on me and preparing me for the work of the missionary evangelist. Remember the words of Jesus, with men nothing is possible, but all things are possible with God (paraphrased).
Thanks for sharing, JD. Great thoughts. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless your season of transition. And I look forward to seeing the new life birthed on the other side when the Lord fulfills His promises to you. Blessings, my brother.
thanks.. always a needed reminder.
Absolutely, Wes. Hard not to push when the “urge” comes on. Blessings.
I am impressed not only with your metaphor, but also your intimate knowledge of the technicalities of the birthing process. Your wife should be proud – kudos to you!
Thanks! She has taught me well!
Incredible insight – thank you for sharing!
You’re welcome. Thanks for the very kind compliment!
That was awesome! I really needed to read that as I’m in transition even now. Bless you brother.
That is great to hear. Thank you for letting me know. Many blessings in your season of transition!
This is beautifully worded…brought tears to my eyes. I needed to hear this. And He used you to communicate it. Confirmation! God bless!
I love those kinds of confirmations, Gina. thanks for your comment.
I love it!! Thanks for letting me know about this and thanks for linking to my blog!
You’re welcome, Jennifer. Glad I found your blog and thanks for the inspiration.
Reblogged this on This Sweet Life and commented:
A beautiful read, friends.
Thanks for the reblog, Gina.
Thank you! Great post!
Very glad you stopped by my way for it led me yours. My son is trying to transition from addict to sober… and not doing too well. I am trying to transition from broken heart to hard heart for that is a way to shield one’s self from the heartbreak. And that never happens. Transition. A very good post.
Thank you. Wow, that is a tough “transition.” I am sorry for your pain, and thankful for your transparency. Praying for you today. Blessings!
[…] am thankful Christ has chosen friends for me who recall my attention to the mystery of being in transition, and those who refresh the Scriptures, the stories of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness, His […]
I have found that seasons of transition in my life are where I have been challenged and grown the most. God has a way of using transition to change your heart and your perspectives to match his own.
That is so true, Jimmy. Thanks for reading and commenting. Blessings.
Every transition in my life has also been an extremely valuable time of growth. He is constantly refining us, though hard, this is quite alright with me :] thank you!
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