This month I celebrate a personal milestone as I graduate from Bible College. Incredibly, it has been three and a half years since I made the decision to go back to school and I am delighted to be crossing the finish line. Last week the graduates were asked to share what the experience has meant to them—what they have learned, how they have changed and what they are looking forward to in their future. Initially, I thought this would be a straightforward task as so much has transpired in these past few years—I’d have more than enough to share! However, when I tried to put pen to paper, I realized I was so elated to be finishing up that “last” paper and my “final” final exam that I had not given much attention to reflecting upon all that had been accomplished. In a sense I had been in survival mode, keeping my head down and forging ahead at a steady pace with the hope I would make it out alive! I’m beginning to see that times of transition are not to be taken lightly. In fact, this is the point where the Holy Spirit reveals many of the purposes behind all that we have endured!
The word for this year at my church has been about “crossing over” into our Promised Land and in March it became clear we had indeed “crossed” over into new territory—a new season had begun. When we read the account of Joshua leading the children of Israel across the Jordan River, God spectacularly holds back the waters to allow them to cross over on dry ground. When they had all made it to the other side, their first act was to build a monument as a testimony to the generations to come. It was done so “all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful” (Josh. 4:24) and that they would forever fear the Lord. I believe this sets an important precedent that we should be following today as believers—taking time to reflect upon our journey, to see how far we have come and to acknowledge where God was in our midst. This not only secures in our own heart the truth of what we have overcome, but brings glory to His name.
Before we set our eyes upon the next mountain to conquer, let’s set aside some quiet time to meet with the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit for revelation and insight on this past season. Often in these times we have tremendous losses—perhaps a job, a friend, a home or something else that we held dear. Perhaps we had to say goodbye to a close relative. We know that it is in these trials when we cling to the steadfast love of Christ. Although we don’t always like the circumstances, Christ is always there and it is to these challenges that we can attribute our growth. One thing I have come to understand is that when God redeems losses, rarely will things look like they used to. We cannot turn back the clock and what is lost is gone. We have left these losses on the other side of the river. I found great freedom in giving up the hope of something “coming back” to me. Instead, I looked towards how God was going to redeem it. This perspective makes room for joy rather than a longing and sadness for what is gone.
As you reflect upon what you are leaving behind, search your heart in answering these questions:
What has been your biggest challenge in this past season?
What did you learn about yourself and how did this experience change you?
How has your attitude towards others changed?
How has your outlook on life changed?
How do you see the church? How has your love for others grown?
Is there anyone that you feel you have not yet forgiven?
How have you experienced God’s grace and forgiveness?
How has your relationship with God grown?
What is the greatest attribute of God that you love?
What is the greatest gift God has placed within you?
What is the desire of your heart in this next season?
Take some time to meditate on Psalm 139—perhaps beside a local river. Then, when you are ready, declare this past chapter of your life to be closed as you offer it up to the Lord and await its redemption. Confess your hope and trust to be in Christ alone as you turn to face the inheritance that awaits you…then keep calm and carry on.