When Change is Coming
Every spring in InterVarsity, we celebrate the graduation of students who have been involved in our ministry. They are usually filled with a mix of optimism and anxiety about their post-college lives. Mari and I have made it a tradition to have these seniors over for dinner several times during their last semester, so that they can have a space to be honest about their hopes and fears for life after college.
These dinners are always a little bittersweet. Our mission is to send these students out into the world, but it’s still sad to see them go! This year our conversations have been extra poignant because Mari and I are also in transition – we are moving this summer to Edwardsville for some new opportunities and a new role with InterVarsity. We’re asking the same questions the students are asking: “What does God have next for us? How do we know we’re making the right decisions? How will God keep His promises to us in what’s next?”
Meeting God in Transitions
In Genesis 12, God calls Abram into a major transition: “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Notice how each command gets more specific – Abram is to leave his nation, and his clan, and finally his home and family. In the ancient world, leaving all these things meant leaving behind not only the people who would support you but your entire source of identity. In contrast, Abram’s future is pretty vague! God
tells him to go to “the land I will show you.”
Our transitions are similar, whether we are transition to a new town, a new job, or a new stage of life. We leave what we know for the unknown. Sometimes we transition because God clearly calls us to “go,” and sometimes God leads us into transitions through our life circumstances. Either way, it feels like we are leaving everything familiar for something unknown. When I first moved to Carbondale, I was very lonely. I didn’t know anyone in town, and it took me some time to find a good church. Making friends and finding community was a very slow process, and sometimes I wondered if I had made a misunderstood God’s call or made a mistake entering the mission field.
We know from Genesis that Abram struggled with his own doubts and questions a lot. He journeyed hundreds of miles (by foot!) before he ever saw the promised land, and he made lots of mistakes along the way. I wonder if he ever doubted his choices or his obedience. But look at all the promises that God made to Abram in Genesis 12! “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. I will bless
those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
These promises to Abram show us the character of our God. He does not leave us floundering in transition to figure out what’s next on our own. While He doesn’t give us a roadmap to the future, He promises to be with us as when we “go” as He commands. And He promises that He will use our obedience to bless the entire world through us.
Every Good Gift
Transitions can be scary when we fixate only on the things we’re leaving. When we fix our eyes on God, we remember that He is the source of all the good gifts we have (James 1:17). It’s sad to leave our town, our community, and our home. But the God who gave us those good things in the first place will be faithful to His promises in whatever is next.
We can be certain of this because of the gospel of Jesus. God’s promises to us are based on His faithfulness, not ours. After all, Abram made a lot of mistakes and disobeyed God time and time again. But God kept His promise to bless “all peoples on earth” by bringing Jesus forth from Abram’s family line. He blesses us so that we can bless others. That’s just who He is! And that’s a promise we can trust no matter where our transitions lead us.
- Greg Chimitris, Intervarsity