Standing at the Crossroads of Life’s Transitions

Standing at the Crossroads of Life’s Transitions

It was 2am.  After hours of packing and cleaning, my wife and I sat alone on the floor of our oldest daughter’s nursery, exhausted from a long day, preceded by an even longer week, and something happened that had rarely occurred in our 4-year old marriage – I began to weep.  As I sat in the house we planned and had built, the room we lovingly painted and furnished just over a year prior and considered all that had occurred in three years in our West Virginia home, the excitement of a move to St. Louis was overshadowed by the strange grief of change.  What had at one time been only an unknown future hope was now a package of past memories tenuously stored in our minds and hearts, as we set off on our next adventure.

Three states and six homes later, I’m increasingly aware of the simultaneous grief and joy that lie in the crossroads of life’s many transitions. 

This Sunday is such a crossroad for Calvary, as we temporarily close our facility for renovation and expansion and make a move together to Lynn Road Elementary for the foreseeable future.  Immediately following our worship service, we will be invited to fold up the chairs in which we have been sitting and carry them out of the building into short-term storage, before they find a more permanent home somewhere else. 

I can’t help but wonder what range of emotions will be felt by the congregation, as the final chair is removed, and members take a final walk through empty rooms and bare-walled hallways.  I can’t help but wonder what some who remember when this facility was a future hope might be thinking and feeling, as they walk through a final time before venturing out to worship in a space much more commonly associated with a church plant than a 43-year-old established congregation.  I can’t help but wonder with eager anticipation what this next chapter in the life of Calvary might bring and how God might work in us, while contractors work on a building that will eventually be our “permanent” missionary outpost in the city of Raleigh – the place where we will gather to worship and the place from which we anticipate being sent out weekly to be a blessing in our neighborhoods and beyond.

New Testament writers were keenly aware of the transient nature of life and ministry, calling believers as pilgrims, strangers, and aliens in this world sent out to invite the world to join us on the Way of following Jesus and ultimately to that permanent home in a New Heavens and New Earth, where God will always be with His people.  In the in-between, many Biblical prayers serve us now – giving language to a people in the crossroads of transition:

  • Give Thanks! – In Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul exhorts a people in the temporary confines of life to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Transitions throughout our lives can bring anxiety about an unknown future, yet as we look behind, we have a storeroom full of reasons for thanksgiving to God for His love and faithfulness.  As you navigate the crossroads of transition, take inventory of His work in what you’re leaving behind and give thanks with eager anticipation of what he will continue to do now and in the future.
  • Have Faith in Christ and Love for One Another! – In Colossians 1:4-5, Paul tells a church he’s never met that his prayers of thanksgiving for them are fueled because of their “faith in Christ Jesus, and the “love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” It’s in recognizing that our final crossroads leads to our hope in heaven that we are free in all circumstances to rest in our faith in Christ and pursue love for His people.  We will have ample opportunities throughout the next several months to lean into Jesus by faith and show love to those for whom this transition may be surprisingly difficult.
  • Rejoice in all Circumstances! – In 1Peter 1:6, the apostle says that our joy in the midst of difficult circumstances is inextricably linked to our eternal hope through the resurrection of Jesus. We’re told in the Scriptures to expect difficulty and suffering as believers in Jesus.  We don’t know from where or how it might come, but we our hope in Christ frees us up to rejoice, when our instincts may be to complain or give up. 
  • Be Kind, Tenderhearted and Forgiving toward One Another! – Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:32 should be emblazoned on the hearts and attitudes of anyone standing with others in the crossroads of transition, especially in the church. Love through kindness, tenderness and attitudes of forgiveness recognizes that we all experience life’s transitions in different ways.  Some will only look forward, others will be tempted to only look behind, and others will sit in the tension of the moment, weeping with a smile on their face.
  • Keep Looking to Jesus! – We’re told that in the moment of the crossroads of transition, Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,” and now he “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2b). This is why the writer exhorts a church in transition to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).  No matter what lies ahead Christ’s church is called to serve Him and make disciples, not in her own power, but rather by looking first and foremost to Jesus.  When the road gets bumpy and the way seems uncertain, we are called to look to  Jesus!