By Paul Lu
Back in the summer, I heard about a Bible study series that our church would go through together that would serve as a tool for the church family during the pastoral transition. This would also apply to any personal transitions. The purpose was to equip us to see how God transforms us through seasons of change. All of us, at one point or another, find ourselves at some junction of change. We might be entering into an exciting venture or on our way out of a harrowing experience. Sometimes, an unexpected situation suddenly comes upon us. At other times, we go through a prolonged transition.
By nature I am a planner. I like to have a plan in place, and I don’t like surprises. I like to organize my things around the house. I make sure that my calendar is not too empty nor too full. Before I go to bed, I prepare for the next day’s commitments. Wouldn’t it be nice if life was predictable? Unfortunately, the reality is that things don’t always turn out the way we expect. That is where the Transformational Transitions series come in.
I happen to be going through a lengthy transition. It started with a calling to go into missions many years ago. Yet, I did not have the faith to ‘drop everything and go into full-time ministry.’ I chose to pursue the American Dream. I got my degree, got married and had kids; I held a steady job, bought a house… all the ‘right’ things to do. However, God found me out. A few years ago, He reminded me that He wanted me to be in missions. “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Eph. 3:7-8) Indeed, it was by His grace that I am worthy to be on the path to preach of His unsearchable riches to the unreached.
I so wish that God would make clear to me what my future holds. I so want to know which mission organization I should work with. I so want to know where He wants me to be. I so want to get my hands busy and fly out to the missions destination! The reality is that God is taking time to shape me. He is preparing me not only through my current studies, but also in my dependence on Him. He is taking time to mold me to be patient, to seek counsel, to wait upon Him, to exercise discernment, and to be willing to let go of my own timing and plans. Abraham waited for 14 years to receive his promised son. Moses waited for 40 years before he led the Israelites out of Egypt. The apostle Paul waited for 12 years between his conversion and his first missionary journey. Time is in God’s hands, not mine.
I was greatly encouraged to hear Pastor Ron’s sermon when he shared about his and Carol’s journey to become missionaries in Japan. It took them eight to nine years from the time of their calling until they finally made it to the mission field. During that time of waiting, Pastor Ron and Carol felt that their relationship with God was renewed. He was also able to get an education at Fuller, a multiple-subject teaching credential, learn how to lead worship with the guitar, get training in prayer ministry, among other things. That time was not wasted! As much as I want to be out there in the field, I know that now is the time of preparation.
The next message on the J-Curve by Jon H. also spoke to me profoundly. For me, it pacified my anxious heart and laid out the J-Curve for my future in missions. As I tread along this transition, I know that God knows best. I don’t have to know all the details, but I know who to trust in. The straight path is not what He has in mind; rather, in love He allows testing,
dying, and discipline so that I can step out in faith one step at a time.
I am so grateful to have taken part in the Transformational Transitions sermon series and Bible studies. These past eight weeks helped me to see transitions in a new light. May we not just say, “Oh, I really enjoyed the Bible study series!” and stop there. Now is the time to put what we have learned into practice!
The “J-Curve” term and concept from: Paul E. Miller, A Loving Life, © 2014 Crossway, page 68.