Sharper focus “Transitions”

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By Victor Leslie,Lt. Colonel

I have been thinking about transitions—the process, after a change, where we pass from one state or stage to another. Believe me, transitions occur every moment of our day, both personally and professionally. A few moments ago, I typed the word “transition” into two Internet search engines and was amazed—in fewer than nine seconds, the word produced 269 million hits on Google and 238 million on Bing. Like it or not, life is a sequence of frequent transitions, always occurring and always affecting how we live.

People everywhere are changing careers, moving to another city or location. There are graduations from college and months of searching for that first job. There are kids moving out or—as is the case these days—moving back in. There are folks celebrating retirements and others anticipating the arrival of a new baby. There are young couples transitioning from two single hearts in love, to the joy of a united and committed relationship. There are weddings and funerals—the list can go on forever! If you did not know it before now, transitions are happening. Like bridges from one experience to the next, transitions help us move forward and cross over. Like musical passages connecting two sections of a composition, they help us in the progression from one part to another. And how we react or adjust to the notes on the transition score will definitely affect how we progress in the future.

Take the Israelites. They certainly knew about transitions but had a hard time reacting and adjusting to them. One day (in reality 400 years), they are living an unfettered life in Egypt, melting in with the culture; then—enslavement! The adjustment to the throes of being subservient and subjugated was not one of uninhibited joy.

Later, in God’s timing, Pharaoh ends that horrific chapter and sets the people free. Another transition, but once again, it is a difficult one. Against the backdrop of God’s plan for them, the transition ends up taking 40 years before they can make forward movement into the next chapter.

Throughout the Bible, the storyline of the Hebrew people is a series of rough transitions, with a recurring theme of helplessness and failure to adjust and react positively. Psalm 137:1-4 could have been their national anthem: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion…how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

While transitional moments are inevitable and may sometimes seem perpetual, we can thank God that in our day and age, we do not have to be powerless or immobilized during our times of transitions. In my journey, I have learned that transitions are best handled by holding on to the bright hope for tomorrow and moving forward with firm and secure faith.

Each time, I discover the sparkle in the wonderful plans God has for me. I have also learned that transitions can become intimate intervals of learning and reflection, a time to re-examine and simplify my values and priorities. Every transition means leaving the last chapter behind but includes seeing the open pages of a new beginning. Through it all, I have realized that God has the copyright on my life’s transitions. It is his song, perhaps different, perhaps unfamiliar, but always full of possibilities. In Jeremiah 29:11, we read: I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future hope.

If you are going through a transition, put your life into God’s hands and find his strength and grace to be sufficient for your situation (2 Cor. 12:9 NIV). As you embrace the new and let go of the old (I did not say discard cherished memories), know that you need not fear. It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Phil. 2:13).

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