Recently our church in Kenya had a ladies retreat with Transitions as the theme. I was asked to lead the first session. The timing was great as it helped me process leaving my beloved Africa to join my parents and children in my “home” country, the country where I often feel like a foreigner. Several people have asked me to take my notes and put it into writing so on the eve of my departure sitting in an empty house with only cheap mattresses on the floor and packed bags at the door I am writing.
When preparing to speak I goggled “Bible Study Transitions” there were 871,000 results. Too many to weed through, so I looked up the definition of transition just trying to get some clarity on this huge topic. Transition: “a passage from one state to another; the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.” Hmmm…. Next step, what does scripture say about transition? One observation is it never looks the same, no A B C formula; except, in a nutshell, trust in the Lord with your whole heart and lean not in your own understanding. He will make the path straight.
Abraham and Sara, they took all, including their nephew and animals and went to another country not sure where they were going but they followed God, at least most of the time, and God was faithful. The disciples were told to leave everything behind and Jesus would make them fishers of men, not that they had to be fishers of men so that they could go. Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land and was told to be strong and of good courage for God was with them. Ruth left her people and followed her Mother-in-law in order to worship the true God, though the sister-in-law went back to her family that didn’t worship God. Esther left family to be in the palace, married to a king knowing she could be killed at anytime like the queen before her, for such a time as this. For the rich young ruler the cost was too high, he went away grieving. These are just a few of the many examples in scripture. It is pretty clear that God calls us to different things: Leave family, follow family, take everything, leave everything… It is said that when God moves, transition ensues, really isn’t this the ministry of Jesus moving people from one place to another in thoughts and deeds?
Often transition is daunting! A year ago I remember thinking “God I am sure it is not time to leave Kenya.” I love teaching Bible Clubs, training others to do the clubs, teaching church workers how to teach and evangelize to children. The Teacher’s certificate program is growing. I love my community and to be real honest I love my little house and cute furniture. I did not want to sell everything for the third time. It is not time yet. Oh how my fist were clenched while praying in faith! We thought we were here for the long run. It did not make sense to have to leave (it rarely does). Over the course of the year God changed my heart as He revealed His plan. God’s transitions lead to transformation! He truly transformed my heart, the hearts of our entire family. He opened our eyes. Scripture had new meaning…. The biblical characters that did not do transition well clung tightly to the known. The ones that did transition well trusted God even when it didn’t make sense, when it seemed like there was no plan ahead. They had an open hand to God’s leading, they trusted, had faith, took courage.
A dear friend shared with me a saying of Corrie ten Boon. She said that she had to keep an open hand because it hurt too badly when God had to pry her fingers open. Oh how often I have had to tell myself keep that hand open, Donna, keep that hand open. So, one more sleep on a cheap mattress on the floor with a few bags packed. Tearful good byes said, peace, bittersweet peace, as I sing Where Ever He Leads I’ll Go…