Transition is hard, I’m not gonna lie.
Transition is the process of changing from one state or condition to another. Transitions can change the landscape, they can uproot, shuffle and reorganize the things of our lives. Most of us hate that. We don’t like the discomfort of transition and the unknowns that inevitably come with transitions. We like the familiar, predictable and comfortable. It’s our human nature. My humanity feels this. I like the confidence of the familiar, the rhythms of the predictable and I like the ease of the comfortable. Even in our transitions we fight to reclaim these things in the new landscape because they offer us security and a sense of place.
For the last several years I have been in a season of constant transition. It seems right about the time things start to become familiar, rhythms start to form and ease starts to set in that’s the prompt for another transition. I’d like to say it’s kept me on my toes and made me a more flexible, adaptable person. Maybe that’s true in a way, but really it’s put me flat on my back. I’ve realized it’s a much better place to be then trying to balance and adjust on constantly changing landscape. You see, when I am flat on my back I can only look up and there’s a whole different reality I see when I’m looking up.
It reminds me of the story in Matthew 14 when Peter decides to walk on the water to Jesus. The disciples see Jesus on the water. At first, they are unsure of what they see and then Jesus confirms, “Take courage, it is I” and something inside of Peter wants to go to Jesus but the situation is so far outside of his normal, known experience that he questions his instinct. He asks first if it really is Jesus (even though Jesus already affirmed it was him), then if it is him, that he would command Peter to come to him on the water. Peter wanted the security of knowing Jesus was commanding him to come out on the water because somehow that made it worth the risk to him. Jesus is generous and gracious and works with Peter’s insecurity and lack of faith and says, “come.” Peter walks out on the water and defies the natural order of things, he does something he wasn’t designed in his humanity to be able to do.
He walks on water. Then, as we all know, he starts to look at the landscape around him and realizes he is no longer in the comfort and security of the boat, he sees the movement of the water and the waves and the unpredictable nature of the sea and he starts to panic. I imagine Peter in the moment when he is stepping out of the boat onto the water and he’s wondering, “Is this possible?” “Am I crazy?” I am sure Peter’s actions also made no sense to the other disciples on the boat. They probably thought, “What on earth does he think he is doing?” I imagine Peter’s eyes were fixed on Jesus as he took every step, they had to be, he had to be dependent on Jesus because he was in completely unknown territory. He needed the reassurance of Jesus’s gaze to let him know he was okay, even though nothing around him made any sense.
I keep coming back to this story. It’s a constant reminder of several things for me. First, when I see Jesus at work, and when I get a glimpse of his heart, I can walk towards that in confidence- I don’t need him to command me to come. Second, When I walk towards those things, they are likely (almost always) going to bring me into new territory, territory that is going to put my confidence, rhythms and ease at risk. Thirdly, I am going to defy the natural order of things. Things aren’t gonna make sense to people around me…or often to myself. It’s exactly this place though that I will become aware of the living Jesus inside of me and the power and capacity he has. “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9. Finally, My gaze has to be fixed on him, this is what allows me to move with him with confidence, rhythms, and ease not because of the comfort of the landscape but because of the comfort of his presence.
Jesus wants our attention, affection and the active use of our lives toward the work of His kingdom. We can’t effectively be about that work if we have found confidence, rhythms and ease in the things of this world. Things need to be shaken up, and shifted to remind us to look up. To remind us He’s our home. As we follow him and walk toward the things that break his heart we find a confidence in the familiarity of his presence, we come to know the rhythms of the predictable patterns of his nature and we experience ease in his provision and in the comfort of his people. Transition offers us the opportunity to be reminded where our gaze is meant to be fixed.
I am learning to be anchored in the reality that He is my home, and to hold everything else with an open hand. In my human nature this provokes a lot of natural grief as I hold family, friends, my home-rhythms and routines, and my church and community with open hands and follow Jesus into another unknown territory. Transitions may be hard but I have come to love the opportunity that they have afforded me to be desperately dependent on Jesus.