It’s mid-summer; that time of the year when people start saying things like, “summer is almost over”, “fall is around the corner”, and “before you know it, it will be spring”. I hear it all the time and to be honest I’m guilty of it too. But I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m beginning to actually realize that time really is going way too fast. And you know what, I don’t want it to. It seems like we’re always trying to get to that place. You know, that place where everything will be better or we believe we will be happier. Well what if we had the ability to slow things down in our lives? What if I told you that to do so would simply mean a change in your perspective? I’m currently going through some major transitions in my life that started at the very beginning of this year with the deaths of some family. I’m currently dealing with more changes that are occurring in my family, like preparing to send my daughter off to college in three weeks, getting my disabled father settled into a nursing home and moving my mom into one of my two bedroom apartments that I thought I’d be able to rent out for some extra income. With that I’m going from somewhat uncomfortable to completely uncomfortable as I trust God to place me in a new home that I can settle into. Then there’s the change in ministry. To see God slow down the developments of what He’s called me to do so that I can help develop someone else’s ministry has been both rewarding and perplexing. But overall I understand that even this place I’m in regarding ministry is a transition as well as preparation.
But why am I perplexed if I understand that I’m in transition? Because before this year began I remember God telling me that I had stepped out of winter and into spring. He told me all these new and exciting things that were going to take place in my life. What he didn’t tell me is that I would first experience some turbulence. So try to imagine God giving you so much hope because you’ve stepped into a new season, only for the season to still somewhat resemble winter; however not quite. In case you're wondering how that’s so, let’s walk it out. As we naturally leave winter to go into spring, we understand that spring begins on March 20th. But how many of you know that just because it’s March 20th doesn’t mean the weather will feel like it? Especially in the Midwest; it would technically be spring, but we wouldn’t actually experience the manifestation of spring until around late April. Well that’s the same thing that’s happened to me spiritually and I feel like that would be anyone who’s navigating through spiritual seasons. Even though I’ve accessed my spiritual spring, it just doesn’t quite feel like spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like winter either. Last week I taught a group of women in Cook County Jail and in a fellowship meeting I hosted at our office about transition and one thing God told me is that between the spiritual and the physical manifestation of a season is transition. It reminded me of Ruth. She entered Bethlehem in the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22), which was the beginning of spring; however she was still dealing with the stench of death from her winter. She hadn’t actually seen the manifestation of her spring until she began to find favor in a man’s eyes that’s likened to Christ, our Redeemer.
Now with all of that being said, how do we slow down? Excuse me, how do I slow things down? I’m fully aware that everyone may not want to feel like they’re prolonging a season they don't want to be in any longer than they have to. I get it. But let me suggest just a simple tweak in the perspective in an effort to make the time in your current season more bearable. What if we took our focus off of trying so hard to hurry and get there and started paying attention to the opportunities and people around us? How do we find our joy and contentment even in those seasons we don’t particularly care for? Well, I’ll give you some examples from my own life. For one, God has blessed me with friends that keep tabs on all of the free events in Chicago and we’ve been taking advantage of it as best we can. Secondly, getting up and going to the gym five days a week has greatly blessed my body and my mind and going for a jog along Lake Michigan is simply wonderful. That’s what’s been going on in my social life, which is something I have not had much of in a long time. In regards to my family, going to my mom’s place every morning and counting the number of times she calls me each day tells me that our bond has gotten stronger. One day I think she called me like 15 times. It became sort of comical because she didn’t even want anything. Before I knew it, I’d pretty much done the same thing to her too though. But you know what, we’d prefer to talk, not text. Like mother, like daughter I suppose. In some ways anyway. It’s also been a blessing to see my father feeling and looking better after being clean from cocaine for almost two months. We’ve gotten closer as well. He blushes when I compliment him and the smile in his eyes has been missed. I get a chance to rub his legs and back and take care of him when I visit. I’ve noticed that his Parkinson’s medication is working much better now that he’s been clean. One of the highlights of my life though is seeing my daughter get so excited about leaving the nest and exploring college. She’ll be the first one from both sides of the family (that I know of) that’s going away to college. Just experiencing her transition from high school to adulthood has been exciting, emotional and a bit scary, but I haven’t had to worry about her because God has blessed me with such a wonderful child. We hit a rough patch around the time she was getting ready to graduate and God was so good in helping us both be willing and open minded to talk through our issues instead of her building up resentment and unforgiveness in her heart from small misunderstandings. Teenagers can be a bit complex to navigate and trust me, I’m learning. So we have our long talks and get to hang out again and I get to pour into her and she eats it up. She’s still a teenager, but I can deal with that.
It’s crazy because I’m literally seeing prayers answered through all of this. Wow, He is just too good to me… Going into the jails and bringing in the harvest has been amazing because I get to see God move in ways that I don’t get to see in church. It’s really fascinating to say the least. To top all of this off, God has connected me with people from other parts of this country and the world that I can build and grow with; and that, among some of the other things I’ve mentioned, is fulfilling prophecy that He’s spoken over my life. And underneath all of these moments in my life is the fruit of the Spirit and God’s grace at work and I thank Him every day.Now these moments may not seem like much to you and you may even be wondering why I even shared all of that, but think about it, there’s no way I could recognize the rich and full life that God has blessed me with if I didn’t slow down and pay attention to what God is showing me. If I were so wrapped up in my shortcomings and challenges I’d miss the fact that I’m in a temporary transition that’s subject to change at any moment. I’d miss the fact that there are some things I need to work through as I prepare for what I’m transitioning into. I’d miss the opportunities to pour into the lives of those God has entrusted to me and those opportunities to receive an outpouring from those he’s subjected me to. I’d miss the peaceful times I get to myself, for myself, to exercise and do some of the things I love. I’d miss all of the opportunities to socialize and enjoy life and the little things.
One thing I don’t want to do is wake up one day and realize what I missed. And for what? Just to hurry up and get to that place? I don't want us to ever forget that our perceived happy place is not something we clearly step over into, but rather something we grow and love our way into. And everything God has promised us is for a set time. So no matter how much we may want to hurry up and get there, the time is set. I think in all of this, I wouldn’t want to be the person that’s literally in that happy place and not even recognize it. I want to simply suggest that we slow down, smell the flowers, enjoy what we can in our days, and allow the Holy Spirit to work His peace through us. Understand that challenges in life are in God’s control and that He’s usually speaking through those challenges. Make every day an adventure as you trust God while He enriches your life. He wants you to have a full and rich life. Not when you get there, but right now. And remember…it’s the little things.