Embracing Life’s Transitions

By Bruce Gilberd

(Based on Luke 15:11-32; Ps 32; 2 Cor 5:16-21; Josh 5:9-12)

This theme is water-marked in all of today’s readings.
This theme we know well from our experiences of life:

  • Infancy to childhood to adolescence to adulthood to middle and older years
  • For many, single to married life – and perhaps single – or married – again!
  • The transition into parenting and grandparenting
  • Moving house, transiting to other towns, even countries …
  • Transitions of work, health, finances, relationships
  • Transition from non-faith to faith
  • And so on – some transitions we choose, and some we cannot avoid.

Do we need to locate our inner disposition to such transitions?
Do we resist them?  Tolerate them?  Do we endure them?  Do we embrace them?
Do we trust God with them?

Looking at today’s readings.

  • Psalm 32 dramatically describes the transition from resistance to God, an unwillingness to front up and be honest with God, to not hiding, to fronting up, to acknowledging the need for forgiveness – and finding God’s steadfast love, and so shouting for joy … Here indeed is a fundamental transition.
  • In Joshua 5, God speaks: “I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt” – [slavery].
    Nations, communities, churches, believers, all of us need to check from time to time whether ideologies, inappropriate rules and laws, our own habits, are enslaving us.  What we need to do is travel to freedom!
    Also in Joshua there is another transition – the Israelites on the plains of Jericho – the oldest city in the world, I’m told – ate the produce of the land, and the desert manna provided by God ceased.
    So this nascent nation transitioned from just being receivers from God, to being co-workers with God – eating the produce of the land they worked on.
  • II Corinthians 5:  the core transition from knowing about Jesus the Christ to knowing and being befriended by him.
    His gracious reconciliation gives us the ministry of reconciliation, healing and bridge-building.  Again … receivers transition to givers.  We are ambassadors for Christ.  That is our primary identity … we do any little thing we can to represent him.  We are a new creation, and we are to pass that on.  Old transitions into new.
  • Luke 15:  I expect the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son are the best known parables of Jesus.  The first illustrates that Kingdom life is unexpectedly found in the heretical Samaritan’s kind action.  Another transition.
    And the in parable of the two lost sons, or the prodigal son, or the waiting father, there are many transitions:
    • From isolation to community
    • From a far country to home!
    • From vulnerability and sin to protection
    • From foolishness to welcome, and a party
    • From grief to joy, and
    • From death to life.

So –

  • Are there transitions happening to us?  And, how are we handling them?  Who can help?
  • Are there transitions we need to make, but are resisting?  Who can help, and give us courage?
  • Are we aware of others making transitions?  Can we be of help?
  • And, yes, again, will we trust God with all our transitions?

I suggest that what makes transitions enhancing are these:

  • When we address them with a sense of adventure;
  • when we let go what needs to be let go of;
  • when we are anchored in the guiding good God;
  • when we reach out for reliable advice;
  • when we pray expectantly – trusting God;
  • when we make unhurried and informed choices.

And in these uncertain days, may our constant and heartfelt personal and corporate prayer be that there are transitions from European war, to peace; from Covid, and all disease, to health and wholeness; and from indifference and unbelief, to belief.


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