There are three certainties in life – death, taxes, and transition. Here are a few examples of transition. A close friend calls to tell you they’re moving. Your boss suddenly reassigns you to an unfamiliar department. Your only child leaves for college and doesn’t answer your calls. You find out you need a pacemaker. The car you drove and loved for ten years blows its transmission. You let your kids talk you in to getting a dog. Or sadly, your spouse tells you they want a divorce. You discover you have cancer. Your father calls to tell you he has Alzheimer’s.
I see transition every time I get a haircut. I have more hair growing from my eyebrows and ears than on my head. The peak on top is getting larger with each visit. Along with the small, everyday changes, think about the major stages of the human life through which we all must pass.
Infancy – complete dependency on parents for food, love and care.
Childhood – discovery, learning to share, play, and relate, education, gift discovery, parents still are the center.
Adolescence – huge biological and social changes, independence, friends now have the most influence, distance from parents, learning responsibility.
Adulthood – career discovery and promotion, personal growth, marriage and family, finding life balance, searching for purpose and meaning
Old Age – retirement, grandkids, health challenges, a return to dependency, time to share life wisdom with the next generation
Life is all about transition. There is no pause, no state of arrival. It’s a constant journey. A transition has three parts – a death, a time of uncertainty, and a new beginning. Transitions always begin with a death. Something old and familiar passes away. A chapter closes. We’re left with a sense of loss. There are many questions, “What now? Where do I turn? Is my life over? What will my future look like?”
The season of change always lasts longer than we would like. It can feel like an inescapable rut, but God sees and knows and cares. In this season you’re letting go, saying goodbye, and coming to terms with how to move on. While we wait, God is doing his greatest work. Out of the fallow ground will suddenly sprout the green leaves of a new beginning, a fresh start.
The writer of Ecclesiastes put it this way in 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” What follows is a list of seasons – a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time mourn and a time to dance, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away. At the end, we find this reassuring conclusion in verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Instead of clinging to the old, we have to embrace the ending and the transition. If we will let the old go, God will make the new beautiful in his time.
For the Christian, life is one big long transition as seek to become more and more like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” What a treasure to have the Bible! It gives us a personal look at his people in their 40-year transition. Sometimes we learn best by seeing how not to do it.
Here’s my question. After the death, in the middle of transition time, when all is uncertain, is there something timeless and unchanging that we can always be thankful for? Is there a source for gratitude to stir our hearts even when we feel all is lost? If we had a Job-like experience, lost our job, family, marriage, health, and home, if God told us our transition would last forty years, would there still be a solid reason to truly say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”?