Looking at Transition it would seem that sometimes it’s a bit hard to pick up what is happening or what God is doing. If we don’t recognise God in a transition we may miss one that God intends to bring something incredible or powerful into our lives.
I think this is what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 16:3.
Matthew 16:1-3 (NIV)
“…You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times”
How do we recognise GOD and TRANSITION? Because in the Bible it would seem even the heroes of the Bible found this a challenge – and they were not strangers to God’s voice or workings?
- John the Baptist, who transitioned from being the voice pronouncing Jesus, to Jesus being the voice and even personally going from bring free to sitting in prison now unsure of things because he had expected, fire, action, winnowing forks and yet Jesus is walking around blessing, healing, restoring. He sends a messenger many miles on foot to ask Jesus – are you the one?
- Paul the apostle, who wrote half the New Testament, originally resisted what God was doing and was fighting God’s new transition without knowing it and with sincere intention.
- Peter – the Apostle, who personally walked with Jesus, yet missed what God was transitioning and told Jesus He couldn’t go to the cross. Jesus had to say ‘Get behind me Satan’. He missed God in the transition
- Joshua, who knew God in the past but failed to recognise Him in the now!
- The people of Israel left Egypt but could never transition in their hearts, so they died in the wilderness rather than in the land of promise. They were free externally but lived as slaves in a free land.
They were so ingrained with seeing God through their prism of victim and slavery that they couldn’t recognise Him as Captain of the Lord’s Army.
We can read about Joshua and Paul’s accounts of meeting God in Transition.
Joshua 5:13-15 (NLT)
13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told.
Acts 9:1-9 (NLT)
9 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9 He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
In both of these instances, notice they both had to ask in the midst of transition, they had to ask who is this?
Have you ever been going through a transition and wondered, ‘Is this God or the devil???”
Sometimes, like Joshua, it seems unclear in Transition:
- Is this of God or in opposition to God?
- Is this for me or against me?
In this regard both these guys are at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Joshua, you would think, already knows God’s voice!
- He was up on Mt Sinai with Moses when God literally and physically descended on it.
- When Moses would meet with God face to face in the tent of meeting, Joshua was right outside and he would linger at the tent in God’s presence even after Moses left.
- The whole of chapters 1-4 in Joshua 5, God is speaking to Joshua personal encouragement and words about his future.
But yet, IN THE TRANSITION, Joshua did not recognise GOD!
Paul, you would think, would know God’s voice because he hadn’t heard it before – so surely he would recognise it!
- He was not like Joshua – golden child – he was the black sheep of God’s family – he killed Christians! He was resisting the transition.
- Then the voice of God comes – BOOMS from the SKY and knocks him off his horse and he says – ‘Who is this…?’
- We all think that if God sent a voice from heaven we would all KNOW GOD IS SPEAKING – but maybe not.
So whether we have been one of God’s right hand men, or we have fought Him for the last decade, transition can come and we may not recognise God in the midst of it until we speak to HIM ABOUT IT.
BOTH OF THEM talk with God and discover it was HIM!
If you are struggling with what is going on in the transitions of life, not knowing if this is God or isn’t it, then take it to God and go TALK about it with Him. Spend time in His presence.
I have found in my life when I look back at transitions:
- I have struggled with how God was moving, but I maybe wasn’t listening, so much as telling Him:
- What it should look like.
- Why this isn’t a good plan.
- Why it’s not fair.
- How He needs to fix this.
- My earthly and short sighted perspectives on it all.
The scriptures direct us to prayer and it is for good reason, because God knows what we don’t! Prayer and communication with God is ESSENTIAL to the Christian life! Without it, we will miss Him in the midst of transition.
But we also see in both Joshua and Paul’s stories that HUMILITY is the key in recognising God in transition.
- Joshua – Take off your sandals it’s Holy Ground – fell to his face.
- Paul – blinded and had to be led away, then someone had to come and pray for him, while Paul sat in blind obedience.
It is easy to MISS GOD in transition or resist it because we are too proud to humble ourselves before HIM:
- I don’t deserve this.
- I am too good.
- I am too bad (false humility and insecurity).
- Look what I have done, now you want me to do this?
- Do you know who I am in this place or this field?
- Like the Pharisees and Saducees had God ‘ALL FIGURED OUT’.
- This isn’t what God looks like, or a move of God looks like.
- I have HIM all figured out and this isn’t what it has been in the past.
- Are we sure about that??? The Pharisees missed GOD because it wasn’t what they expected or what they knew before.
- I shouldn’t have to do this.
- Perhaps we think God’s next step or chapter is beneath us.
- I am sure Joseph thought that as he was carried away a slave through the desert.
- Why Me – I am not good enough or don’t deserve it.
- Be humble enough to know it’s not us, or how good we are, that does this, but GOD AND HOW GOOD HE IS! Be willing and obedient to Him.
I know plenty of people including myself where TRANSITION required:
- Serving someone who was younger or less experienced than them.
- Didn’t fit what the image we wanted or expected.
- It wasn’t what we thought life should look like.
- Didn’t seem fair.
- Stepping into a different role or position that seemed less important or ‘wasn’t their gifting.
- Being willing to do something we felt unequipped or unworthy to do. It takes humility to realise that it’s not about you.
BUT GOD USES ALL THESE THINGS TO BRING US CLOSER TO HIM, rather THAN THE THING WE HOLD ONTO BECAUSE OF PRIDE.
Sometimes God uses TRANSITION to prise something out of our life and lead us more to depending on HIM.
It takes HUMILITY to recognise God in Transition.
It takes a: New perspective to recognise God in transition.
Acts 9:17-19 (NLT)
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
Sometimes in Transition it requires us to see things with a new or different perspective to how we used to see, in order to recognise God in the midst of transition.
Kerrin showed an old optical illusion of two women’s faces – same ink but different picture depending on how you look at it.
Joshua, prior to his TRANSITION and God encounter, was organising his army to battle Jericho which would have led to the deaths of many of his people through siege warfare and attacking the greatest defensive walls of their time.
- But God gave him a different perspective of attacking with simply marching around the walls and shouting praise! A new perspective changed the whole outlook.
What is going on in our lives that we need to go back to God and ask for a new perspective on?
Perhaps we are missing God in it because we have:
- Applied a filter of old hurts. Remove the filter.
- A perspective through insecurity and fear. Use your eyes of faith.
- A view of negativity, cynicism or doubt.
- A worldly, earthly perspective instead of AN ETERNAL ONE.
- A secular or cultural perspective instead of a KINGDOM ONE.
Maybe we need to go back and talk with God, then ask for a new perspective! THEN WE WILL SEE HIM IN THE PICTURE and not those other things.
Transition requires OBEDIENCE to see GOD.
In both of the instances, Joshua and Paul obeyed GOD’S direction and instructions.
- Are hard.
- Require faith to step out.
- Demand we grow up and mature.
- Take us out of our comfort zone.
- Challenge our securities.
BUT in the midst of it all OBEDIENCE to GOD IS KEY!
Joshua and Paul obeyed God and then SAW HIM in THE RESULTS.
Sometimes people refuse to TRANSITION because it requires obedience and they CANNOT SEE GOD IN IT because HE AND HIS PLAN ARE FOUND OFTEN IN OBEDIENCE, not BEFORE IT. It takes faith in God.
John 14:15 (NIV)
“If you love me, keep my commands.”
Obedience to what God tells us to do is not optional, according to scripture. It is God’s command. He cares about what He says.
- This is not just His written Word, but His Words to us full stop!
- If God speaks to us about something and we refuse to do it, that’s disobedience!
This is why the CHRISTIAN LIFE cannot be lived without SURRENDER!
- Obedience to God will open up HIM and HIS PURPOSE in the midst of the most challenging or exciting TRANSITIONS.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO THAT GOD HAS BEEN ASKING US?
Suggestions for Discussion Questions
- Have you ever been going through a transition and wondered, ‘Is this God or the devil???”
- In the midst of your transition can you recognise God in it?
- Discuss why you feel that prayer and communication with God is essential to the Christian life!
- Do you find that you are holding on to things because of pride when you know God wantsw to take you through a transition in your life? Discuss how you can work through this.