Whether or not you’re currently in a season of transition, these steps will help you make it through with your joy and faith intact.
The Lord is my Rock. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Shelter me under the Rock. (found throughout the Psalms)
You’ve just been released from one job (position, place of service, ministry, etc.) and you are preparing for the next one. What to do in the meantime?
You’ve lost your spouse of many years, whether by death or divorce or something else. What do you do until the way opens up before you?
You’ve moved from the only home you ever knew to a new city/country, and you’re finding it difficult. What now?
Keep your eye on the Rock.
Change can be hard. But it can also be life giving and life-altering.
Life is about change. Anyone who does not like change is going to have a lot of trouble in this life. Any Christian who cannot handle change is going to have trouble following the Lord Jesus.
Here are my top ten suggestions to you on how to make the most of the transition time:
1. Take Long Walks Alone and Talk to the Lord Often.
It’s best to alternate talking to the Lord, then remaining silent for a while. When the urge rises within you, talk to him more, then be quiet. Do this every day; an hour if possible.
2. Read the Psalms. In Fact, Live in Them.
The Psalms—Israel’s songbook—“get” you. You’re not the first to feel abandoned or lonely or betrayed or anxious. You will find more than one Psalm that seems to have been written with you in mind. When you do, settle down there and live in those passages. Claim them. Write them out and keep where you can read them often.
3. Be Busy Doing Good Things.
The absolute worst thing you can do is sit around the house and wait for the phone to ring. Or watch too much television. Or play on the computer endlessly. Or overeat.
I was amused to find that one important piece of counsel to those grieving the loss of a husband or wife is: Make the bed. The idea is (a) to shut down the urge to spend the day in the bed, (b) to “do something productive,” however small, at the beginning of your day, and (c) to keep the house straight and uncluttered. A messy bedroom is depressing.
4. Get Out of the House.
What or who needs your touch today? What can you do to make a difference, however small, in someone’s life? I suggest to ministers they teach a Bible class, start a weeknight Bible study in their own home, ask the pastor what they can do to lighten his load, visit shut-ins, find a nursing home that needs you to hold a worship service or visit in the rooms of patients.
5. Start a Journal.
Write it down. Get your thoughts in the book. What is going through your mind these days? Record it. What are you praying? Write it down. What is happening that you will want to remember? Do not assume you will recall it later; write it in the book. You’ll find it’s great therapy, but also instructive for some future time when you are (or someone close to you is) going through a similar transition.
6. Keep Up a Few Close Friendships.
If these special friends live nearby, meet one or two for coffee when you can. If they live at a distance, create an opportunity to visit them. You need strong friends in your life right now, the people who know you best and love you most. This, of course, is why social media is so important.
7. Stay in Church.
You need to sit in a worship center and sing with the people of God, to pray and bring your offering and to hear a sermon. You need to connect with the people of God around you. Guard against trying to assess “What good did this accomplish?” Nothing good will come from that. Worship is like prayer and a thousand other acts of the Christian life: All of faith. You do it and leave it with the Lord and let him use it as he pleases.
8. Eat Healthy.
I’m a Baptist preacher and not a dietician, so I’m not the one to define this term. I expect each of us knows when we are doing wrong and we know that eating right involves fruits and vegetables and such. “You are what you eat” is a true statement, since food is our fuel.
9. Be Specific in Your Prayer Life.
What exactly do you need the Lord to do for you? Then, tell him. Put it in words. Remember the blind beggar of Jericho, the one called Bartimaeus (see the end of Luke 18). When he heard that “Jesus of Nazareth” was entering, he began calling out, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!” Over and over he prayed that. Eventually, when he stood before the Lord, Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?” You and I are tempted to say, “Lord, you heard him. And you can see him. The poor man is blind. He needed a bath last year and a haircut the year before. He needs healing.” But the question was not to us.
Bartimaeus has been asking for mercy. That is a huge concept and could cover many things: a gift of money, a training program for the blind, a better begging place, a rebuke for those who had mistreated him, clothing and food, etc. So, our Lord was saying, “Get specific. What exactly are you asking for?” And he said, “Lord, I want to receive my sight.” So, what are you needing today? Then, tell the Lord.
10. Laugh a Little Every Day.
When I was going through radiation treatments (head and neck and shoulders every weekday for two months. Ugh!), I felt miserable. And since there was no laughter in my life at that time—for obvious reasons—I went to Plan B. For several years I had kept every issue of Reader’s Digest. I’d mark with a Sharpie the stories and humor that appealed to me. So now, needing some lightness and laughter in my life, I pulled down one issue of RD each morning and read everything I’d marked. Next morning, another issue. It was a life-saver.
Some day, you will look back on this transition in your life as most unusual and possibly even life-changing. How glad you will be if you stayed close to the Lord and waited on him, holding out for his very best plan for you instead of running on ahead in your impatience. God bless you.
Joe McKeever spent 42 years pastoring six Southern Baptist churches and has been writing and cartooning for religious publications for more than 40 years. This article was originally published on McKeever’s blog.