It’s a strange title -- but I’ll explain.
Some of you will know Elaine and I are transitioning out of leading a local church into a wider ministry next summer. Out of her experience of nine pregnancies (we lost one baby through miscarriage), Elaine decided that transition, the point just before birth, was the hardest point in labour. And it can be the same in other areas of life.
Transition is that point at which it all begins to happen. It’s too late to go back, yet seems impossible in the searing pain to move ahead. But in the end, the baby is born.
When we determine to move ahead in God, and when that determination involves radical change and steps of faith, the birthing process will be contested by the enemy with all the power at his disposal. He will use everything from external circumstances to pressing the buttons on all our weaknesses.
Our transition process has turned out to be longer and more complicated than I had envisioned. My previous experience was step out in faith, obey God, plant a church, and trust that he will provide. It wasn’t easy, but it was simple. We never had any money or support to back us up, but God showed up. Twice. But that was a long time ago.
Now our step of faith involves other churches and other people, and it’s not just God and us. And we have to honour how God speaks to and works through others.
So things really began to get on top of me.
But in that moment, a couple of weeks ago, I had a revelation.
Don’t worry -- I didn’t see seven angels, seven lampstands or four living creatures. No, I had a revelation of a basic truth of the Word of God.
In that moment when the enemy was telling me I was abandoned, God spoke to me to abandon myself to him.
I opened my Bible and began to read Matthew 6 out loud. God feeds the birds and clothes the grass. He asks which of us through our anxiety can add an hour to his life? And he tells us to live in his grace for the only day for which he will give it, which is today.
Our problem is this. We try to control tomorrow by our thoughts. We think of all the positive outcomes we can imagine, but we never win this battle because all the negatives come flooding in and overwhelm us. In truth, our efforts to control the future in our thinking are a mild yet still deadly form of divination.
There is only one possible solution to our anxiety, and that is to abandon ourselves to God. Cast all your cares on him, as Peter puts it. Roll them into one big bundle and throw them into his arms.
In times of fear, stretching and transition, it can appear that God has abandoned us.
That is never true. The problem is the opposite. We have not abandoned ourselves to him.
Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden light.
He will give you grace for today. And when tomorrow comes, he will look after that as well.
Our transition continues. But Jesus is in charge.