You may have noticed that things have been quiet on the blog recently. Danalyn and I celebrated the arrival of our son, Wesley Edward, on April 10th and things have been pretty crazy ever since that night. Our little guy is healthy and strong, despite arriving two weeks early. In preparation for this time, I asked some friends to share with you on the blog. Today’s post is from my good friend, Jeff Harding.
A valuable lesson I have learned in life is that the ending of something is usually followed by the beginning of something else. I think Tim Rice was trying to convey this idea when he wrote the lyrics for Elton John’s hit single, “Circle of Life.” Rice wrote that life moves us through despair, hope, faith, and love. Interesting perspective…especially in the over-influenced, self-absorbed, hectic arena we call daily life.
I want to challenge your life perspective, perhaps even your worldview for a moment. I want you to consider that life is not simply an assorted list of endings and beginnings, but rather a wavy, organic flow of constant transition.
I have many endings and beginnings occurring over the next few weeks in my own life, and the sheer volume has raised my stress level ten-fold. Finishing seminary, ordination, graduation, family coming together, meeting and exploring what God has for my future…not to mention the daily demands of work and relationships. At times, it feels like I’m sleepwalking.
You should know that I am not dismissing the significance of milestones one has in life. Actually, the recognition of those milestones is what I want to highlight. Birthdays, graduations, new jobs, and new marriage are just some of the many events that are celebrated around the world on a daily basis, and create a sense of excitement and joy. However, by my own account, my life is full of these things…so, how come I usually feel anxious and stressed out?
One word: Transition.
It would be nice if life was a giant checklist, and we could mark off our progression with some sort of large, metaphysical Sharpie. But life is not laid out so plainly; rather, it’s crammed with roller coasters, deep-sea diving, bungee jumping, test-taking, and all of those again with a blind-fold. We are consistently ending one thing and beginning another, all while working toward something that many not have an ending for a long time, like retirement. (“Is he saying life ends at retirement??” No, no…just keep reading.)
Believe it or not, God knew your life was going to be this way before you even started living it. After all, He created life. Here is what I have discovered during my contemplation of life in transition.
Remember those lyrics that Tim Rice wrote about…life moving us through despair, hope, faith, and love? Do yourself a favor, and remove despair from that equation. You don’t need to prepare or look for despair, since you will likely discover a fair share throughout life as it is. Focus on the other three: faith, hope, and love.
While these three characteristics are unfortunately dished out ad nausem in contemporary Christian culture as feel good statements, I propose to you that life does not simply pass us through these elements like stages. I feel like these are components that we develop and appreciate during the messy, elongated times of moving from event to event, from circumstance to circumstance.
Once you accept that life will naturally catalyze tension and exist in constant movement, the more heavily you will lean on your faith in a God who provides hope through the loving sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, our Savior. It seems like whenever I look for ways to mend my broken circumstances, I fill it with cheap glue that never holds up. Whenever I admit my helplessness before God, I begin to notice aspects of life in a more hopeful, expectant perspective. What am I expectant of? I expect God to show up in my life, even though it might mean walking in blind faith.
If I have to bungee jump and skydive with a blind-fold, it might as well be faith in God to show up with a rescue net…right? Don’t let the overwhelming nature of transition in life sour your love for others, or rob you of your faith.
And never lose hope.
Jeff Harding is a young pastor who dedicates his life to investing in the next generation. He is a soon-to-be graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary, and also holds a degree from Arizona State University. He lives in the heart of Dallas, Texas, and always takes time for percussion jamming and enjoying a Chipotle burrito. He blogs at christcultureandchipotle.wordpress.com, and you can monitor his daily thoughts on Twitter at @jeffdharding. He and Scott share a “sunburned in San Diego” experience that will never be forgotten.