If there's been one constant or consistent theme in my little life so far, it is change, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. From jobs to friends to passions to cities, it seems that the things in our lives are always moving and changing, and in the midst of the endless transitions, it feels like we are all just doing our best to keep up. I've been on this earth for almost thirty years, and do you want to know what I've learned about change? It never ends. Life is full of change, and there's a very good chance that things will continue to shift as we keep on living; our jobs, our circumstances, the people in our lives, where we live, and everything in between will inevitably continue to grow, morph, and change. Does this thought freak you out? If so, you are not alone. Change is a hard concept for a lot of people because risk and fear are closely associated with it, and that is hard for many to grapple with. It can mean a disruption in what is familiar and comfortable, or it could potentially be a life-flipped-upside-down kind of thing, and while these are sometimes the results of choice, they can also come at you out of nowhere. So yes, it makes sense that a lot of people aren't huge fans of change.
I won't front with you: change has notoriously been very hard for me in the past. While I know that it stems from a few tough experiences in my childhood and early teen years that made me feel like I needed as much control as possible over the things in my life, I can recognize now just how much it has hindered me... and hindered God from doing much, since I wasn't really in the business of trusting Him. Apart from simply not liking change, I feared it. I was terrified at the thought of something changing beyond what I could see or plan for (read: control issues), and any time something would pop up that thwarted me off the path *I* had laid before myself, I struggled. A lot. Beautifully, though, things have been changing for me over the last few years. Maybe it was moving across the country without a job, or maybe it was quitting said job to move back home, both of which I only (reluctantly) did because I believed my Pops was prompting me to. But it's most likely been the concentration of all that has happened over the last few years, and while I may have been reluctant in saying "yes" to God, it seems that each time that I did, a small shift occurred: my faith started rising while my self-sufficiency shrank back. It's been a slow process, to be sure, but (tiny) mountains started moving and forming in the shape of trust and dependence.
The real monumental shift happened while I was traveling through Europe, particularly when I found myself in Ireland. It probably helped that I was in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and on my own in almost every way, but when God began to let me in on what He's working together with just the smallest of glimpses — which no, does not fit into what I'd been imagining would be next on this journey of mine — I found myself doing something I never have before: saying yes immediately with very little notion of how it will all work out. Is this scary? Yes. Is it risky? Yes. But do I have any reason to doubt in His faithfulness or ability to come through? No matter how hard my humanness tries to say otherwise, I really don't. Each and every past "yes" to Him, it seems, has built up something in me: an unshakable belief that He really does know what He is doing, and that He already knows and has plans in every change and transition that might come. So I choose to turn any nerves into excitement and any fear into expectancy, because I believe He's got the best stuff in store.
Coming off of this trip and the whole God-story that birthed it, I've had more than a few people ask me how to trust in the transitions, and while I am certainly no expert, the transformation that has happened in my life is palpable, and it from that place that I want to share. So, how can we trust God in the transitions of life? I wish it were an easy three-step formula, but alas, I think that — much like how we've each been made as unique individuals — it may be a unique process for each of us. Plus, I think that it has less to do with what we do and more to do with where we focus, and that maybe the most important thing is keeping our eyes on God rather than our shifting circumstances.
First, let's talk about Ebenezers. In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel raised a stone in Mizpah to celebrate their victory over the Philistine army, which was called an Ebenezer, or "stone of help." It served as a symbol of God's faithfulness to the Israelites: a tangible reminder that He had helped them. When I was in college, a friend encouraged me to make and keep a list of personal ebenezers in order to remember God's faithfulness in my own life. While I haven't always been the best at keeping it updated, it has served as such a vital part of my spiritual journey when new changes or challenges have come my way. I've been able to open that document and see many of the ways that He has provided in the past, which has helped to both squander doubt and build up my faith that He will do so again. If you were to look back at your life thus far, in what situations can you see that God clearly helped you? How has He proved His faithfulness in your life? I want to challenge you to write those things down, and the next time you sense a transition coming, look back on them. He has been faithful before, and surely He will be again.
And second: punch fear in the face, and just say yes. This might sound a little scary... and that's because it is. Telling your fears and doubts to shut the hell up and choosing to say yes in the face of uncertainty and risk is rarely easy, but I have learned that it is always worth it. Saying yes to God in spite of the unknown forces us to recognize and admit that we are not in control, and that's a good thing because it means we've got to really rely on Him to come through. I've mentioned it before, but I call this the "sweet spot": that place where the risk collides with our excitement, meaning it can only work out if God shows up. Say yes, and watch what He does.
And what can be said for the changes that come that might aren't exciting or that are hard to see good in? All I know is that we have to try to keep our eyes on Him. He is unchanging, unrelenting, and ever faithful, and I believe in His promises to bring us good and not harm, to work all things together for our good and — more importantly — His glory, and that in His limitless perspective and power, He has a plan beyond what we can ask or imagine. Cling to these things. Cling to Jesus. And if you're feeling discouraged, just look at the Bible. By different means and in His timing, He always led His people and fulfilled His promises. Sure, sometimes it took a really long time or He used an odd way to make it happen, but He always did the dang thing, didn't He?
Whatever transitions you may be walking through, He's got you. He fights for you. He pursues you. And He loves you.
So what is stirring in your heart, or what transition are you currently facing? Know that He has gone before you and is with you, and that no change is a surprise to Him.