Life’s kitchen serves up some surprising dishes, don’t you think? Sometimes we get something completely different than what we ordered, and there’s no sending it back. Sometimes it’s what we ordered, but man, it’s just so disappointing. Fortunately, at times, we are also unexpectedly delighted by what we receive.
Whatever the case may be, we are loyal patrons. We like the people, the ambiance, and the adventure of dining here. We show up and try to ready ourselves for whatever we get; we know Life’s “specials” often bring difficult transitions.
Lately, I’ve been working my way through a large special order. This fall I became an empty nester. Then, a few months later, without a lot of planning, my husband and I purchased a townhome. Suddenly, it was Christmas and I was getting ready to sell our home. We will be moving soon, and the layout of the new place has required us to get rid of many possessions and replace a few others.
This past weekend we decided to sell our kitchen table. It was a surprisingly difficult transaction for me. “It’s just a table,” you might be thinking.
Well, yeah, but it’s so much more than that. My husband and I scraped together the cash to buy it when our first baby was barely a year old. She was graduating from a high chair into a toddler seat, and the prospect of future family dinners and conversations was exciting. We envisioned our future together at this table, and it delivered.
The table became a hub of all life’s activity for our family. My kids grew up leaning on it – eating, doing homework, laughing and making crafty messes. They used it while conquering each other in Monopoly, piecing together puzzles, blowing out birthday candles, and applying to colleges.
As a family we circled around it to make difficult decisions about jobs, finances, moving across the country, and seeking medical help. A solid platform for whatever came its way, day in and day out, the table supported it’s share of celebration and heartache.
So, yes it’s just a table, but you see how it represents so much more? Believe me, as I thought about this, I was tempted to be sad.
But, then it occurred to me letting go of this table had just as much significance as purchasing it.
Our family is not only moving houses, but moving into a new phase of life. My kids are young adults, with fresh beginnings of their own. A different table not only fits our space better, but represents the next phase in our family’s life.
While you may not be facing the same circumstances I am, there’s a good chance you are in the midst of your own transition. All sorts of “specials” come out of the kitchen in a lifetime – getting a driver’s license, going to college, heartbreak, living on your own, getting married, buying a home, moving, having kids, letting kids go, getting a job, changing jobs, retirement, aging, losses…
Thinking about these transitions made me realize that most of them require us to let go of something or someone, and that can be hard. I have been through a lot of transitions, but this week was the first time I researched what the Bible had to say about them. Here are few Scriptures to help make sense of transitions and letting go:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19 New International Version (NIV)
Change tempts us to look back on what is familiar with longing. The life we knew offers security. We learned to predict our problems, and we knew how to go about solving them. A transition leads to unexpected issues which may require us to reach out to different people, learn new skills, and live a different way. That scares us! But, this Scripture tells us to focus on the new things God is doing in our lives and to stop dwelling on the past. If we set our sights on the new, we will come to see he is making a path for us where we could not see one before. He will make a way.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Often when we are in the midst of a difficult transition we are blind to any possible good that can come of it. God did not promise happiness every day, but he did promise to work every day for the good of those who love him. Our short term satisfaction is not nearly as important to him as the long term learning taking place in ourselves and those around us. Living in this world shatters our hearts at times, but faith in God’s purposes and his ultimate promise can carry us through. His ways are good.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5 (NIV)
Have you noticed how transitions rarely proceed according to plan? We think everything is under control, and then it all starts unraveling before our eyes. Worry pounds on the door, and sometimes our doubting hearts throw it open, welcoming the visit. We can choose to bolt the door shut on worry, and visit with God instead.
Remember that he has a plan, but he needs our patient trust to complete it. He knows fear and doubt will come. Rather than succumbing to these emotions, we can use them to build a better relationship with him. He is not afraid of our honest ranting – he welcomes the closeness it brings. If we search for answers grounded in his Word, the result will be hope, not despair. His Word is our patient guide.
C’mon, pull up a chair at Life’s table. Don’t worry about what you see on your plate. Don’t think about how much better yesterday’s serving looked, or what kind of “special” your neighbor has. Have a little faith in the dining experience.
No worries. If that first bite gives you the willies, then chew it slowly. Smiling your sly smile, look around the table. Because God will never let you dine alone. He’s already there. “ORDER UP!”
Prayer for the Week
Thank you for this great experience called life – for it’s easy moments and it’s hard times. While I may wish for an easier path at times, I am grateful for the good you are working in and through me. Lead me into what’s new with confidence by placing skills and people in my path that can help me. Then, show me how to use my transition experiences to help others in similar situations. When I get sad and frustrated, let your Word remind me that you are sitting right beside me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher
The powerful song “Already There” by Casting Crowns right here.