International Ministries

4,150 Miles of Transition

September 14, 2009 Journal
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I was out on my bike today depriving my brain of oxygen again.  There’s usually not a lot to do while you ride along.  Trying not to get run over and avoiding stationary objects only use up a small portion of my brain, so it’s a good chance to think about what’s been going on.  Want to ride along for a few miles?  

If you have read Joyce’s recent journals you know on June 25th we left La Paz to move to Littleton, Massachusetts for our year of U.S. assignment. We drove 4,150 miles arriving on August 29th.  It was a long trip in many ways, but very good.  As the miles accumulated behind us we crossed over from Mexico to the United States.  We moved out of a cement house and into one with wooden floors. We exchanged the searing desert heat for gentle woodland and cool mornings (that will soon become a beautiful symphony of color). Along the way we dropped a son off at college.  There’s been a lot of change in those 4,150 miles. And change can be unsettling.  Somewhere along the way, as the scenery constantly changed, we also became aware that what’s going on around us represents what’s going on inside.  Things are changing.

We are in transition. God is transforming us and it’s important that we pay attention. 

Paying Attention

As I pedal along thinking about all the change going on inside, a verse comes to mind from Matthew 11:27-29 in the Message version.  It says; "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

It’s surprising what God uses to get into your thoughts.  I pedal along trying to keep a rhythm going, his voice works its way to the surface…”I want you to rest in my unforced rhythms of grace.”  About that time several cars go zooming past…”you’ve been like the people in those cars . . . rushing.  Will you stop…rest, quiet your heart and allow me to talk with you?” Whoa, I didn’t expect that.  Have you ever tried to ride a bike with tears in your eyes?  

I’m getting the idea now.  Transition is moving from one thing to the next.  That’s what God is doing.  Our car has stopped but we’re still moving.    He is revealing that some parts of our lives—our experience as a family, ministry, relationships—needs  to end.  It needs to die so the new thing he has for us can emerge. Transition is God’s process of transformation and it is a process not an event.

The In-between

God knows me better than I know myself.  He knows I’m going to resist letting go of old and familiar perspectives, ways of thinking, my understanding of purpose, habits, and attitudes.  He knows identity shifts are hard.  So, he assures me that it is unforced.  I have to choose to let go of the old and embrace the new.  We are in-between the ending and the emerging, and it’s pretty uncomfortable.   But God says, “It is full of my unforced rhythms of grace.”  About then I remember what Joyce experienced at the beginning of this trip when we were stopped at the boarder.  God said, “Trust me.”   

It’s like learning to breathe again.  There is a time between the last breath and the next.  It’s a time when a new part of your identity, or seeing things from a completely new perspective, or seeing what’s going on with new possibilities, can begin to emerge.  It’s like being surrounded by woods, walking through grass, and suddenly being aware of dew and earthy smells.   I’m learning to be at home in this uncomfortable, in-between place but I can’t say I always like it.  I find I am often saying, “I trust you Lord, even as I can’t see where you’re taking all this.”

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I can appreciate that this God-orchestrated-in-between time is really important and valuable.  It’s a time of waiting, listening, praying, reflection, healing and renewal.  It is a time of letting go of what once was and waiting to see what new shapes and designs the potter wants to put into the clay.  It is a time of trusting God.  A time of feeling a bit lost while God does what God does.  It’s not surprising at all.  God is committed to our transformation.  God never stops creating who we are and his word is full of transformation.

What I know right now is that God is doing a new thing and I don’t know what that is yet.  Transformation has begun.  What God desires next in our mission and ministry for his glory and Kingdom is being built into us now.  I’m in the in-between counting on the unforced rhythms of grace to play deep in my soul.

Rhythms

That reminds me.  It’s time to change the back tire on my bike. 

David Reed
September 2009

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