(Time for another guest post from Mike Adkins, a good friend and youth pastor in Georgia. Today he’s writing about a very big transition in his life.)
A few weeks ago Joseph asked me to revisit The Pursuit of God to answer the question:
“How did your personal pursuit of God fare through your transition?”
The transition he referred to was multi-faceted for me as I’ve recently moved from Douglasville, GA, to Macon, GA. From Shepherd of the Hills UMC to Forest Hills UMC. From being THE youth director at a church to being A youth director at a church. From being near my family to being far from them. From living with two great friends to living by myself.
The transition itself was difficult. Moving was far from my mind. In fact, I had just recently (at the time) decided to stay where I was for at least another year before entertaining ideas to the contrary. Without provocation, Forest Hills contacted me and expressed the desire to have me on board their staff. I resisted with a bevy of excuses, but they encouraged me to pray about it. That’s when God over-ruled my thoughts with His voice and one word: Go.
I spent the next week revisiting the calls of some Biblical figures to compare notes and hopefully gain some pointers on how to handle my own. I learned a few things that became my strength and encouragement during the transition:
1) Every call from God is towards some better end. For Abraham it was the promise of being the Father of Nations. For the disciples it was the opportunity to be covered in the dust of the Savior and continue His work when He left. For Jesus it was to save the world forever and ever on end. In every case I could find there was betterment, progress, and blessing. So I hung my hat on the promise of something better. At times it was hard to believe, but I put my faith in it nonetheless. This made the pill easier to swallow, and that pill was that:
2) Every call also demands the giving up of or leaving behind of something…and this can be tough. Abraham had to leave his homeland. The disciples gave up their very livelihood. Jesus gave up His life. In most cases I could find, this was the part of the calling that gave people the most trouble. The rich young ruler in Luke 18 wanted to follow Jesus and no doubt it was because he believed it would prove beneficial, right? But when Jesus outlined this part of the call – the giving up or leaving behind of something – the young ruler walked away. In order for the necessary change to happen, we’ve got to let the “old” go and the “new” reign. For me this meant leaving SOTH – a church I still deeply love – and the church family I have there. Not a desirable prospect for me. It also meant leaving my family which has been hard on the lot of us. None of this was easy. But in order to answer the call God had placed on my life it was necessary.
3) Calls never end with the calling. God not once abandoned those whom He called to do one thing or another. He was with them always: providing, guiding, empowering, protecting. It was never: “Now that you’ve answered My call you’re on your own.” I was not to be treated any different. The call was step one. My answering it was step two. God will be there from step three and forward. I wasnt leaving Him behind in Douglasville.
These three simple revelations from the Scriptures kept my faith strong through a trying time emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Tears were shed. Doubts were had. Second thoughts were present. It was not easy and I did not go through this transition with flawless faith. But my trust in these three aspects of God’s calls saw me through and on this side of the process I can profess without hesitation that God is a promise keeper. He has put me where I am needed according to His vision…and it’s awesome!
So to answer the question Joe posed: The metaphor I found helpful while thinking about it is how swords are made: The metal is heated so that it is weak enough to manipulate and then beaten with a hammer to condense the source material into a much stronger one. My faith was tried and stretched during the transition but was formed into something much stronger than it was before.