I have been pondering recently how to navigate a new season in which I find myself. As I did, the Lord brought to mind Eccelsiastes 3:1, which in the NKJV says, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:” There is then a list of different times we can experience in life both personally and corporately.
I am one of those people who, for the most part, embraces change pretty quickly. I like to experience new things, go to new places, try out new technology. Of course, when change is big and life altering it can be scary and sometimes very painful. The loss of a loved one is a life altering painful change. So is long term injury or illness, or the loss of a job, or going through a natural disaster. But even exciting expected changes can be scary. Graduating from High School and stepping into adulthood is both exciting and a little scary. Getting married, buying a house… Experiencing an empty next for the first time in decades can leave you wondering who you are anymore. We all go through small and big, life altering times and seasons in our lives. Some of them seem senseless, others full of hope.
If we keep reading in Ecclesiaties 3 we reach verse 14 and discover why there are various times and seasons. King Solomon writes, “ I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”
Learning To Fear Him
Every new time and season in our lives comes about so that we will “fear him”.
We learn in Proverbs 1: 7 that “The fear of the Lord if the beginning of knowledge.” Job tells us the fear of the Lord is wisdom (Job 28:28). Psalm 25:14 says “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.” And Psalm 103: 17 says “the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.” Proverbs 14:27 tells is it is a fountain of life. Over and over again we are told of the amazing benefits of fearing the Lord. But “fear” of the Lord isn’t talking about dread or scariness that we often associate with that word. Instead it means to “revere the Lord”, been in awe of Him, a desire not to offend or disappoint Him in any way.
That tells me that any season is an opportunity for us to increase in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord, to fall in love with Him more deeply, and desire obedience more fully. How can we do that in scary or painful seasons? The answer is trust.
Trust is an interesting word. It means to rely on someone, surrendering to them some control over the future. Trusting your teenager with the car means he or she has some control over whether you can drive it later. You are not there to remind him or her to stop at every red light, drive the speed limit, or change lanes carefully. You trust.
Depositing money in the bank gives someone else control over whether you have that money to spend later. You do not tell them how to invest it, who to approve for loans, or how to secure the funds at night. You trust the bank.
Trust is important. It is freeing and it brings peace.
Several years ago I went through a significant job loss. After twenty-two years at a tremendous ministry I was suddenly laid off. There was no human explanation for it. There were no external hints or warnings. But there I was, without a job.
I could have been fearful. Our health insurance and other benefits were a stake. I could have been mad. After all, I had served well through good times and bad. I could have been depressed. I loved my work; it fit my passion.
But I knew God was in control, and in Him I trust. My life and family are in God’s hands and He is good. I decided to trust God and embrace the new season He sprung of me as another adventure in Him!
Seven Opportunities of Change
Trusting God through that career transition made it amazingly peaceful. I had a secure anchor through the transition. I could clearly see His hand at work. Along the way, God gave me seven opportunities to trust that apply to most new times or seasons in life.
Hearing From God
Hearing from God about a change or new season is the first opportunity to trust. God gave me a hint that change was coming. I sensed it in my spirit. Scriptures about change leapt off the page as I read the Bible. Sermons and prophecies about change kept coming my way. I didn’t know what or when, but I knew for sure something would change. So, I kept my ears tuned to God’s voice and trusted Him to make everything clear in His perfect timing. Things did not come into focus all at once, but I was comfortable with God being in control!
In Genesis God gave Joseph hints about big changes as well. He had two dreams hinting at his future as a ruler. Because he was one of the youngest sons in the family, there was no doubt something had to change. But Joseph could do nothing to bring it about; he had to trust God. Little did Joseph know just how much he would have to trust God through some pretty tough seasons along the way, but eventually God’s promise came true!
Sometimes God flat out tells us what to do. Consider Abram. The Lord told him, “leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Gen 12:1). Talk about an opportunity to trust! Abram knew what to do but had no idea where it would take him. Still, He trusted God, heading into the unknown on God’s word alone.
Sometimes change happens without notice. Look at Job. His life dramatically changed in just a few days. He lost property, business, family, and was riddled with painful sores. Through it all, Job trusted in God and in His character. At the end of Job’s life, God blessed him more than in the beginning.
Families affected by hurricanes, floods and other disasters face circumstances like Job. Those who trust God in the midst of their losses, come through tough times much better than those who get angry and bitter.
Ron, a widowed father of six, woke one bitterly cold night in New Jersey to find his house was engulfed in flames. He quickly got his children and elderly father outside. But of all their possessions, only a car, a computer and Ron’s Bible were rescued. As a result, the family escaped with only the night-clothes on their back. Instead of being bitter, Ron rejoiced that God had saved the two truly important things: His people and His Word. Ron faced tough times ahead, but he trusted God and that gave him peace. Over time God faithfully restored what was needed, and more. That tragedy was pivotal in their eventual relocation to Virginia… and our subsequent marriage! Trusting God through that difficult and unexpected transition led to a new life with new hope for the future.
Preparing for Change
Preparing for Change is another exercise in trust. After hearing God whisper to me about change I determined to embrace it and I started to prepare. I took on a posture of surrender. As part of that, I began to praise God and rejoice for the new things coming. I agreed with the good words I heard about change so my attitude would be right; keeping my eyes pealed for open doors. Even though I did not have specific details, I prayed for God to make the rough places smooth and the crooked places straight. The day I was laid off I had confidence the road before me was prepared in advance.
Jesus is a good example of preparing for change. Although He spent time in the Father’s presence daily, Jesus took extra time to personally prepare for key transitions in His life. Before He began public ministry, Jesus fasted forty days and nights engaging in spiritual warfare so He could walk victorious in the days ahead. As His crucifixion drew near Jesus prepared both Himself and His disciples for what was coming. The Transfiguration and His travail in the Garden of Gethsemane both were times of spiritual preparation for His death, resurrection and ascension.
Waiting for Change
Waiting for change can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process. But even in the waiting we must trust. Once I knew change was coming I was eager to get moving. It’s good God didn’t give me all the details—I may have tried to forge ahead. But God’s timing was not right yet.
Between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He told the disciples many things. They were to go and make disciples of all nations, drive out demons, speak in new tongues, heal the sick, and many other amazing things (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18). But first they had to wait. They knew what to do, they had experience in healing and deliverance, they had great faith (now that they had seen Jesus alive); but they had to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 4-5). God could have given them the Holy Spirit as Jesus ascended into heaven. God, however, waited until Jews from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost so the impact would be greater!
Walking Through Change
C-Day (Change Day) is when the rubber meets the road. That is when our trust is tried. Do we really trust Him when our world changes?
Thankfully, on the occasion of my layoff, I did! Change day was a day of liberation. Not because I was in a bad place and wanted out. I had been in a fantastic place of provision, life and ministry. The change was liberating because God had birthed something new in my heart, and I needed a new place to grow. When I embraced God’s word of change, He began reshaping me for the new thing.
A caterpillar is satisfied and cozy in its cocoon until it is time to spread its wings and fly. Then all of a sudden, the cocoon is encumbering. If the cocoon is broken open too soon, the butterfly will not have the strength to make it. But on the right day, at the right time, the cocoon must come off or the butterfly will die.
Abram probably felt a mix of emotions the day he left Ur, but His trust in God was greater than the emotions. So, God prospered him, made nations from him, and counted his faith as righteousness. When God told Noah to get in the ark, Noah’s trust overcame the ridicules he had endured. He ushered his family into the ark and into God’s salvation, which allowed them to rebuild and repopulate the earth. When God changed Joseph from a prisoner to a prince it was an amazing day – real liberation! Joseph’s trust in God allowed him to get over any bitterness of the past so he could save his family and bless the nations through his God-given wisdom.
When C-day comes, determine that your trust in God will be greater than any emotion, scoffer’s advice or memory so God can do exceedingly abundantly above all you could think or imagine.
From Old To New
Passing from old to new takes trust too! The level of peace one has through the passage is a key indicator of one’s trust level. No two situations are exactly alike, but God is the same. He is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, just enough and loving enough to work good no matter what the circumstances. Fijian Pastor Suliasi Kurolo says “a loser man focuses on what he is going through. A winner man focuses on where he is going to.” Satan will do anything to keep us from where God wants us. So, it is imperative to keep our eyes on Jesus, not settling for less than God’s best, and we are sure to win.
Within a few days of my lay off I had several offers to consider. All of them were appealing in one way or another. One was at another ministry with all the stability of my former position. It would have been easy to jump at that opportunity for security’s sake. But God wanted me to walk a different road. Instead of fretting, I held on to the promises God had given me and allowed Him to be in control. His peace that passes all understanding guarded my heart and mind because I stayed fixed on Jesus. Eventually He directed me to a new ministry. I had an excitement and confidence that confirmed to me it was from God.
The Israelites rejoiced as they left Egypt headed for the Promise Land. But as soon as they faced their first challenge at the Red Sea, many wanted to go back. Again and again God proved Himself as their Provider, Defender, and Guide. While some decided to trust Him, being amply supplied and defended, not all did. Others chose to trust a gold calf, extra manna or other men, and they suffered severely. Those who followed the Lord, moving with the cloud, found provision. But those who longed for their former way of life brought destruction on themselves and others. The same applies today; those who trust God during their transition will have peace, provision and protection.
Embracing the New
Embracing the new also requires trust. The first time God showed the Israelites Canaan, they rejected it because of a few giants. Rather than embracing the new place God was giving them to settle and prosper, they chose to stay in transition. Hadassah, or Esther, had a different attitude. When offered the chance to be Queen of the land of her captivity, she embraced it. Her name was changed; her clothes and environment too. In some ways she was more captive as Queen than she had been before. But the blessings, benefits and impact she had far outweighed the discomfort she overcame.
There were some giants that loomed as I considered the place God was leading me. It was in another state and our daughter was a senior in High School. My husband’s work would potentially be impacted. But as we talked, my husband and I both had peace that God would make a way if we embraced where God wanted me to serve. Instead of moving God made a way for me travel back and forth, but often work right from home! Technology is a great gift from God!
Completing the Transition
Completing the transition to our new season is opportunity to trust. Our past experiences are helpful in the new place God puts us, but still, we haven’t been this way before. God is up to new things. Our human nature might want to change our new situation to be like one we felt comfortable with before. But it is God’s nature to transform us into a new creation. It’s okay to draw from the wisdom God has revealed to us in the past as long as we continue to trust Him to give us fresh wisdom for the new season and direction
When Esther was faced with the Hebrews’ extinction, she could have donned Hebrew clothes, marched into the King’s presence and accused Haman of treachery. Instead she used wisdom gained in her new surroundings, approaching the King as a Queen should. She served him a fine Persian banquet and adorned herself in royal robes. But she also clothed herself in humility through fasting; called on the Lord for favor; and revealed her heritage at a carefully planned moment. She was the Persian Queen, but with godly wisdom and character. Even today she is celebrated for her willingness to trust God by embracing her position in a foreign land to save God’s people.
The benefits and blessing of each new season can transform our lives in a beautiful way when we choose to trust God through the transition. In this case, that career transition allowed me to have more time at home with my family. The impact of the new ministry reaches into communities and nations where I had no contact before. Finally, a new peace settled over me that convinced me I was in the right place.
Time to Trust God!
So, this new season, and every time God brings change your way, it is a time to trust God. As you trust, you will learn to revere, love and fear the Lord in a greater measure.
When God takes you into a new time and season, embrace it. Trust Him through it. When you do, He will make the rough places smooth and the crooked places straight so you do not stumble – and you will draw closer to Him – which is always for the best!
Dr. Jodie Chiricosta is vice president of Somebody Cares America/International. She teaches and consults on a variety of Christian living and leadership topics and is the host of the podcast Her God Story.