Today was a bit of a milestone and one that I’ve looked forward to for quite some time. I registered for my final semester of seminary, or at least the ThM program (meaning there may be a possibility for the PhD program). Well, I still have to complete everything: this semester, thesis and the remaining 5 classes that will be taken this coming summer and fall. But it signifies that the end of something is near and the transition to a new chapter is on the horizon.
As I’ve wrote about in Cracking the Door to 2013, I approached the flip of the calendar with much hesitation. Unbeknownst to me during the celebratory zeal of my acceptance and preparation for the move to Dallas in 2008, I had no idea how personally trying the next 4 years would be. Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of personal trials and stark contradictions. No need to rehash but I think I’m in a far different place then I was that first day in August 2008.
I have suspected for some time that 2013 would mark a transition in multi-faceted ways, a time to turn the corner. Aside from wrapping up the ThM program, I don’t really know much in the way of details. But I’ve suspected that it also meant an employment transition. When I found out I was accepted to seminary, I kind of carried my profession with me. God really opened that door for me to have a good part-time position with a good mission to address the root causes of poverty and placed me among some wonderful people.
But 2012 presented increased restlessness, a growing frustration that my current duties and future endeavors were at cross purposes. I became more cognizant that some of the aspects of what I’ve done professionally were like putting a square peg through a round hole. Restlessness now had a partner in exhaustion.
Ironically, moving beyond the cracked door of 2013, I learned just a couple of short months into it that my position was ending. Yes, the job that has sustained my household was coming to an end. On one hand, there was sadness and repeated visits of anxiety that wanted me to fear the road ahead. But on the other hand, I could not help but consider the ironic timing, the sense of transition and replays of the fuel that prompted my trek to seminary in the first place.
For I remember that day back in 2007 so vividly. I had been toying around with the idea of seminary paying attention to an internal motivation to serve God’s people in ways he uniquely designed me. But at the same time, talking myself out of it with arguments about age and life stability. So as I sat at my desk at work this one particular day in 2007, it hit me that I could keep trekking on my career path and I’d probably do very well in the way of all the products we assign to “doing well”. But I ultimately would not be doing what I was designed to do. And if I didn’t do that then my life would be all that it should.
My life is not my own. It belongs to Christ who laid down his life for me so that I could be reconciled to God because of his grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). When the Father wooed me to trust in the completed work of his Son by the Holy Spirit, it was for the purpose of good works for others (Ephesians 2:10) for his sake.
Yesterday, I had a chance to hang out with some cool people who really love Jesus. We were there to have a time of fellowship with Miguel, who with his wife Claudia have served as missionaries in Equador for the past 7 years. I heard the story of this dear couple who gave up a life of comfort and practically all earthly possessions to make disciples in a place where they’re were practically none. I heard of hardship, loss and stuff that would make a number of people run.
But I also heard stories of how God has moved tremendously through their work. I heard of people whose lives were being transformed through the power of the gospel and persistent love. I heard of impoverished conditions being addressed and hope restored. I heard of the formation of Christian communities, growth and love for the Savior. I heard of the impact of the transformation of whole communities. I heard of a tremendous reliance of faith in the midst of uncertainty, instability and the absence of bi-weekly direct deposits, 401Ks and medical insurance. They trust the Lord and he has provided.
So as I sit on the cusp of this transition period, I’m reminded that transitions are for a good purpose when the Lord is involved. For he is at work for something, some people, somewhere for the sake of his kingdom. It could be here or abroad, through any type of community or any kind of position. Transitions are not easy especially where there is uncertainty involved. Uncertainty is unsettling and transitions can be daunting. They make us want to cling to security and map out plans for the least amount of change or sacrifice. But I’m also reminded that Jesus said the best way to lose your life is by hanging on to it.
So I’m praying that as this chapter is rounding to a close that the right door opens at the right time and I will have good sense to walk through it. I’m praying that I can be sensitive for what is next and be open to whatever it is. I’m praying that fear will not push me to resort to what’s safe and I can hold all things loosely. Grace is risky business and faith compels us to take it. Who knows what is around the corner? It may very well be something familiar. Or maybe it’s time for something new and trusting the Lord in the process.