By Patricia Engler, Crosswalk.com
One year ago, I strapped on a massive green backpack and walked out of my childhood home, oblivious to the reality that I would never be back.
I had recently finished university, and, intoxicated with freedom, couldn’t wait to enact a wild plan I’d hatched to backpack around the globe in 180 days. But two months into my journey, I learned that my family back in Canada had unexpectedly decided to move across the country, leaving their home of 20 years.
Suddenly, I didn’t even know which province to book my flight “home” to!
After transitioning through 16 countries so quickly I wasn’t sure which culture to be ‘culture shocked’ from, I returned to my hometown to find no home, no parents, and no possessions but the bike they left behind.
Eventually, however, I settled into the idea of moving to their new town. I lined up a new job there, began making new friends, and even picked out paint colours for my new walls. But then, my phone rang.
The call presented a major question: Would I be willing to move to yet another town, 300 miles from my family, to step into fulltime ministry?
God’s leading seemed undeniable, so I made the move just weeks ago.
The past year has been a solid series of hello’s, goodbye’s, changed plans and broken comfort zones. I’ve flipped through different cultures, worked in different provinces, and switched legal addresses three times.
Change is one thing, I reasoned, but this was getting ridiculous.
Then again, isn’t change often integral to the challenging, yet incredible, adventure of following God?
It sure seems that way as a single person, when life can feel both excitingly flexible and frighteningly unstable. But not even the most stable, settled lives are immune to change either, as I observed when my parents packed up their memories and followed God across two time zones.
Whether single, married, or in any season, we’re all subject to change. And whatever season we’re in when change hits, these seven scriptures are packed with truths to help us weather the transition:
1. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
This Scripture reminds us that whatever else happens, Christ is constant. In fact, He is the only Constant.
The Angel of the Lord who guided Israel in the wilderness, the Shepherd who inspired David to write Psalm 23, and the Messiah whose word stilled a raging sea is the same Savior who holds our lives today.
Past, present and future, His faithfulness remains. The character, presence and grace of Christ will never change, even if everything around us does.
2. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The possibility of everything around us changing might seem unlikely—but in fact, it’s inevitable.
That’s because nothing about this world is eternal. Earthly riches, pleasures, beauty, health, careers, success and even marriages are temporary, changeable and guaranteed to one day fade.
But that’s okay, because this Scripture assures us that we don’t belong to a fading world.
Change, then, is a reminder that we aren’t yet home. And if we aren’t home, then maybe getting comfortable isn’t the plan.
Maybe the plan is to navigate every plot twist of this fading life motivated by an eternal mission rather than an earthly mindset. And maybe, change can help us learn to do just that.
3. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28: 19-20
As we live our earthy lives for an eternal mission, this Scripture assures us that we are never doing so alone. That’s an important reminder in times of transition, for major changes can often lead to major loneliness.
I’ve experienced that myself, moving away from home to start college, or trying to find Christian community in my current new town.
Traversing the deserts of change is difficult enough for a group, much less for a solo sojourner.
But even in the remotest wildernesses where change may find us alone, Christ is the only One who can—and does—promise to be our constant companion, always and forever.
4. “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Of course, just because God promises to be with us through a transition doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Conversely, just because a transition is difficult doesn’t mean we’re outside of God’s will.
Esther probably discovered these truths firsthand. A captive orphan girl, she had enough on her mind without also needing to be torn from her sole guardian, sentenced to life in a haram, and crowned Queen of the Conquered World.
And if that wasn’t enough, changing laws also suddenly sidled her with the impossible-seeming task of stopping a genocide!
In all these hardships, however, God had a plan. In fact, the hardships were part of God’s plan—a plan which Esther, in her first days of transition at the palace, could hardly have begun to imagine.
Only with her people saved would she be able to fully look back and see how God had indeed brought her to her new situation, however difficult, “for such a time as this.”
5. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
When a new situation does pose difficulties, this verse reminds us that we, like Esther, can trust God with our stories. It’s a sure thing.
If Romans 8:28 read, “We hope that in most cases, God can eventually think of a way to turn things around for some people’s benefit,” then we might have a right to worry.
But no, Romans 8:28 exudes confidence that we know God has our entire stories under total control. Even when life’s changes leave us blindsided, we belong to the Master Author who knows the whole story, has a glorious ending in mind, and is weaving together every plot twist for final beauty.
6. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"
Because we don’t see the big pictures of our story, plot twists often seem like ideal reasons for us to panic. When I heard my parents had moved, for instance, I could see reasons to worry from all sorts of fascinating angles.
Where would I work if I moved with them to Ontario? Where would I rent if I stayed behind in Alberta? What if all the changes were too much for my family?
What if I moved, but couldn’t find new friends or meaningful employment? Would I be forever stranded, friendless, jobless and frozen under six feet of perpetual Ontario snow?
When any of us face concerns like these, Matthew 6:25 reminds us to take a deep breath and CHILL. God doesn’t bring us into transitions to leave us stuck in the snow.
He is also far more capable of caring for us than we are. Besides, the eternity-focused lives He calls us to mean way more than investing our hearts and souls into scrounging for earthly things He already knows we need.
And while the journey is still not always easy, if we just keep taking each next step God sets before us with His kingdom in mind, He sorts out the surrounding earthly details beautifully.
7. "The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
As it turned out in my case, my original worries about moving were indeed as useless as Matthew 6:25-34 said they’d be. God had a specific ministry job in mind for me all along.
But stepping into it would require leaving my family, like Abram did, and moving to a new place I’d never heard of until then. But even as I try adjusting to my new environment, God’s words to Abram remind me that He has a plan—a good plan! —behind the transition He’s called me to.
Like Abram, I’m finding that major transitions are often necessary steps toward the purposes God intends to unfold in our lives.
The moral of the story:
Stepping back to look at the big picture of what these seven Scriptures reveal, we see that even difficult transitions are opportunities grow closer to God, and closer to fulfilling the purposes He’s prepared for us.
Amidst transition, God’s word assures us that He won’t change even when all else does. While our earthly lives are destined to change, our unchanging God has called us on an eternal mission to an eternal home—and He promises to be with us every step of the unpredictable journey.
Even when that journey brings difficult changes, we, like Ester, can remember that God may be leading us through hardships “for such a time as this.”
He’s working together every plot twist for our good along the way, so we don’t have to be consumed with worrying about the practical details of our stories.
The Author already has in mind what He’s going to do, and—as Abraham discovered—major transitions are often part of the greater story He’s unfolding. But we’ll never know the end of the story He wants to write unless we let Him turn the page.
Patricia Engler is an adventurous writer who explores how Christians can navigate secular cultures and classrooms, with Christ. After 12 years of homeschool and a B.Sc. degree, she backpacked 360°around the world documenting how Christian students keep their faith at university. You can follow her stories and get connected at www.patriciaengler.com.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tinnakorn Jorruang