I’m 59 years old and find myself in yet another life transition. About six weeks ago the company I had worked for for the past three and half years terminated my position due to the difficult economic times we are in. Since my livelihood has primarily been in the construction industry over the past 25 years, and since my job loss was due to a depressed housing market and the subsequent economic crisis, I have been left income-less at a very difficult time for the very industry I have been depending on to support my family.
The dictionary defines transition as the “movement, passage, or change from one position, state, subject, concept, etc., to another”. Life is full of these changes, and, in all reality, transition is a veritable staple of life, a state we are always in in one form or another. But some transitions stand out from the rest. Life changes that effect our livelihood, our families, our economic status, our vocation, our health, etc., are by nature more in our face, more obvious, and carry the potential to be either exhilarating, exciting or downright nerve wracking and possibly personally devastating. Either way, they are life altering.
So how have I handled this latest life transition? Well, the last few weeks prior to leaving my company, in all honesty, I struggled. I dealt with hurt and anger, and feelings of injustice and disenfranchisement. I, the seasoned vetern was being let go. I knew that this job was not the final thing I wanted to do with my life, but I hadn’t expected it to come to such an abrupt and unplanned for end, especially with no thought through plan to fall back on.
Once I was able to work through those feelings and reconcile myself to the fact I was losing my job I began to look at this change as a new opportunity. I began to think that perhaps God was allowing this to happen at this time to move me in the direction he wanted me to go and he knew I didn’t need to waste any more time being sidetracked doing something that wasn’t getting me there. I’m certainly not getting any younger. It felt a little like being pushed off a cliff, exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.
The last several weeks have been a great experience. I have had fresh inspiration regarding a ministry vision I believe the Lord is calling my wife and I to and have had plenty of time to think, reflect, pray, write and converse with others about it all. I have enjoyed not having my days filled with “job related” concerns and schedules but free to pretty much do as I please. My wife and I have been taking walks together, praying together and hanging out a lot together. All good stuff.
The down side, which is now beginning to become more focused, is the income issue. Though I am taking small steps to see a thirty year old ministry vision finally unfold, I need to realize an income source to keep the family needs cared for. As the small financial reserve quickly dwindles I find myself beginning to feel a bit anxious about what I am to do in this interim period between vision conception and vision realization. I have to admit the thought has hit me that it may get worse before it gets better.
Transitions test us. How are we going to respond in the heat and the pressure? What kinds of decisions will we make and for what kind of reasons will we make them. Transitions of this nature expose both the presence and absence of faith and trust in God, and, if allowed, are great opportunities to build the character qualities of perseverance, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and an unshakable belief in the ultimate goodness of God.
Tough transitions can also potentially break us, crush us, defeat us and rob us of faith. So what makes the difference in the kind of outcome we experience? As I move through this transitional time in my life, what is it that can assure me of a good outcome, a good result in the life of Dave Smith? I’m not sure I have all the answers for that question. What I do have is a little history with God. I’ve experienced and seen the goodness, mercy and tenderness of God in the midst of some pretty tough life changes in my past. That has given some confidence that he is with me and that he is good and that in some way he will see me through this time in my life much like he has in the past. And not only will he see me through but he will bring me into a larger place with him. A place of greater intimacy, of greater dependence, of greater fruitfulness, of greater glory, for his name’s sake.