Certain big questions loom large in transition. And the good news is that transition seasons are fertile ground for discovery if we're asking the right questions. Here are some of the right ones to be asking...
Whether transition is forced upon us or comes about by personal choice, making it to the other side requires that we intentionally process the loss and plan for the next productive season. Is it possible to walk through a major life transition with both hands full, one doing the work of grieving losses, and the other gradually filling up with good seed to plant in rich soil?
In the natural world, the quietest places are often the deepest places...the deep sea, deep into the woods, a deep cavern. These can be frightening places to explore, involving a fair amount of risk and uncertainty. In the same way, navigating silence in the coaching conversation may feel risky and uncertain. However, as coach and client embrace silence, we allow God to take us deeper into those places of discovery.
A little more persistence could be just what we need to make steady progress toward our goals and dreams. Often, the assumption is that doing more and going faster are the answers. Persistence with payoff, however, must be grounded in the substance of rest, reflection, and a good dose of play from time to time.
Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Scripture Focus: Ephesians 5:1
Isn’t it amazing how our memories can be awakened by certain smells, taking us to a person, place or thing from our past? This past winter as I was working in my garden, I noticed one rose just starting to bloom. Fearing the approaching cold would hinder it, I clipped it off and brought it indoors. Over the next few days, the rose unfolded and subsequently gave off a beautiful scent which filled our living room.
The flower’s aroma took me back to childhood visits to grandma’s house in Northern California. Her home was filled with the scent of rose. There are other things I remember about those visits: Grandpa snoozing in his recliner. The feisty little Yorkshire terrier running around the house. But the aroma…that’s what hit me the most.
We’ve been created to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14). This happens when we imitate our Lord’s example of love and sacrificial service (Ephesians 5:1). In the same way the scent of a rose conjures up a pleasant memory, our lives of service are meant to remind people of their loving Creator and His plan for them. What could be more pleasing to our heavenly Father?
Thought for the Day: What am I doing to remind others of God’s love for them?
Prayer: Lord, help us to be joyful imitators of your Son. May our lives give off the fragrance of Christ to those who may need a reminder of just how much you care for them.
Read: Jeremiah 23:23-24
Scripture Focus: Genesis 28:15-16
Big life change can often bring about a sense of confusion or feeling lost. When the familiar things in life are replaced by the unfamiliar, God can seem distant and unconcerned. That was certainly how I was feeling two years ago after moving to the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, a city of over 15 million people.
Me, my wife and our two children had moved into a small apartment in a bustling part of the city. It was at the crossroads of two busy streets. The traffic noise was like nothing I had ever experienced, and it seemed to be constant throughout the day and night.
The call to prayer rang out from several different mosques in our neighborhood. I was feeling a bit lost and distant from God. I was thousands of miles away from the spacious house I had been living in for the past seven years, complete with a large garden and fruit trees. Unfamiliar surroundings. New sights and sounds. I was beginning to wonder, “Lord did I hear you right? Are you really in this move?”
Just then I heard God’s whisper through the scriptures, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:23). I realized that He was encouraging me to trust Him with the change and uncertainty I was feeling. I could never escape his sight and his presence, even in this faraway and unfamiliar place. In fact, during the days and months that followed, His nearness became more real to me than it ever would have been if I had chosen to stay in my comfortable surroundings.
Thought for the Day: God is nearby in faraway places.
Prayer: Lord, help us to trust you with the uncertainties of transition. In lonely and uncomfortable surroundings, may you be our constant companion and ever present help.
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. – Matthew 7:24-25
Shifting sand. So much of life feels like that. Even now I’m sitting here waiting for a flight which has already been delayed 6 hours and will likely cause me to miss the next connection. Plans gone awry. Hopes left unfulfilled. Dreams delayed. Unwelcomed news.
Thankfully, there is a way to be grounded even while the rain pours and the earth beneath us shifts: Hearing the words of Christ and putting them into practice. The combination of hearing and doing is essential to success as it relates to what we build and how we weather the storms of life. Every person builds something in this life. But the lasting quality of what is constructed depends on how well we listen and how consistently we put those words into practice. This is what distinguishes wisdom from folly. I wonder…Am I being wise or foolish?
It's been said, "God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak." I like the way Jesus puts it, "He who has ears, let him hear." - Matthew 13:9
Attentive hearing has a way of preventing unfortunate situations which our hurried actions can create. We stop to hear (really hear) those around us. We pause to hear God. This invites wisdom into our actions, infuses meaning into the doing. Hearing well engages the heart ahead of the hands, which is essential to effective service. Hearing enables us to serve out of depth of conviction and personal character, bringing life and hope to those around us.
All these benefits to the practice of hearing, and I wonder why I’m so slow to learn. I guess there’s no better time like a flight delay to practice some hearing in the midst of waiting. Hopefully, I can become a little more wise in the process!