by Johnny Sears
A few years ago, I made a career change and relocated with my family to a new state. A new job and a new home made for a momentous transition for all of us. Perhaps the biggest challenges of transitions are the inevitable disorientation and the sense of discomfort that go with it.
My experience of disorientation has given me a lens through which to view the broader society. We are feeling the effects of great transition and disorientation world-wide. There have been shifts of power and leadership in the Middle East; the global economy is undergoing tremendous upheaval; our ways and means of communicating are constantly evolving.
We live in an age of transition. Though this is not the first such age in history, our modern sensibilities lead us to believe that somehow we can expedite our transitions and eliminate the discomfort. The most common response to discomfort seems to be to figure out how to end it as quickly as possible in an effort to restore order and efficiency.
The Hebrew people encountered numerous times of transition and disorientation. The psalms and the prophets testify to another way of approaching the situation: “Wait for the Lord.” It is an encouragement to remain faithful to God’s promises and God’s faithfulness to us. In our hurry to relieve discomfort, we deny ourselves the time to grieve, to let go of those things we will no longer need in the next stage of our journey. We short-circuit our potential for the gifts of growth and new life that transition can bring. The scripture calls us to expectantly wait on the God who is preparing to unfold a new thing in our world.
But this waiting can be a difficult and lonely process. Our anxieties creep in and distract us from our faithfulness. We become impatient and expect quick relief from our disorientation. We need places where it is safe to acknowledge our discomfort and to be reassured in our waiting.
This affirms for me the value of and need for a spiritual community. In such a community, we gather and are reminded of God’s faithfulness. We listen to one another’s stories of faithfulness and how they fit within the framework of God’s unfolding story. Together we acknowledge the struggles of the world and gather the strength to give voice to the hope for better ways, despite the clamor for quick, albeit inadequate, resolutions. Together we wait for the Lord who journeys with us through both our personal and communal transitions.
Johnny Sears is the director of The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation®. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Becky, and their two sons.
Reprinted from Alive Now, September/October 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Upper Room. Used with permission.