The road named transition resembles a roller coaster track with its sudden twists and turns, and stomach-turning free-falls more than a clear-cut destination highway. Creating a ride of unadulterated joy and surprise with long stretches of panic, intimidation, and despair.
A quote attributed to Winston Churchill states, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Whether we experience success or failure, both require considerable courage to go forward.
As Prime Minister of Britain and as a world leader, Churchill understood that even when he was successful in solving one critical issue or crisis, another dilemma would, without a doubt, take its place. Churchill also realized that if he failed, failure alone would not kill him, and soon a new challenge with another opportunity to succeed would present itself.
Long before Winston Churchill, however, the apostle Paul learned this same invaluable lesson and shared with us his experience when he wrote:
I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Like Paul, your God-given destiny will take you on a journey undoubtedly lined with successes and failures. Failure can produce vulnerable ground allowing fear to build a stronghold in your mind. Success too can lead you down fear’s treacherous path if you believe the familiar Hollywood adage, “You are only as good as your last film” - or book, or song. You fill in the blank.
Fear of the unknown, or fear of building one failure upon another failure can be mentally and spiritually paralyzing. Even fear of not attaining equal or greater accolades, awards or honor, as previous successes will immobilize any advancement in your destiny journey. And the more you struggle to remove yourself from it, the greater its quicksand-like grip to pull you under and suffocate your God-given calling.
Transition in any area of life has its share of road hazards. The deadliest road hazard may be that last bump in the road at the point where you are the weariest and just short of your long awaited destination. It was here that I hit that jolting bump in the road landing me into a quagmire of despair.
Returning home one evening after teaching a class, I questioned why I felt no heart connection with these people. I cared deeply about them, but something was missing. Was there something I had failed to do? Is there something in my mind or heart that obstructs its way? I very much desired that heart connection. Without it left me drained of passion rather than fulfilled and refreshed. My motivation to keep going was coming to a standstill. Despair’s quicksand began slowly to pull me into its grip.
I knew it was not safe to stay in this vulnerable situation for long. In Luke 11:9, Jesus says, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” So I asked the question, “Now what do I do God?” I was going nowhere until He answered that question. The answer was out there, but that answer was simply eluding me at the moment.
Two evenings later in a prayer service, the answer did come. A minister whom I knew from attending classes that he taught locally, came to pray with me. I told him only that I needed an answer to a question. The young man began to pray, but abruptly stopped, looked at me and quietly said, “You do it because you love Him.” Those seven simple words brought immediate, profound clarity and release.
My heart had only needed a reminder of why I started this leg of the journey in the first place. Like the apostle Paul, I too, “press toward the mark.” Not for the high calling of man, but for the highest calling of all – for Jesus Christ. I do what I do because of my love and devotion for Him.
In nature, quicksand first immobilizes and then slowly pulls a person down into its suffocating pit. However, the more a person struggles to be free, the faster the quicksand’s pull becomes. If caught in quicksand, there are three actions that person should immediately take:
1. Be still - moving or flailing will only pull you down faster
2. Let go of any baggage – you will become unable to move for the weight of it
3. Lean back into the quicksand – this will allow the rest of the body to slowly free
itself from the quicksand
It is the same in our spiritual journey. First, be still. Let God be God! Trying frantically to make something happen on your own, will pull you deeper into the quicksand-like grip of despair and fear. Allow God to work in your situation. Secondly, let go of the baggage. Holding on to it will quickly immobilize you. Let go and place your questions and concerns in God’s hands. And last, but not least, lean back and look upward until you are facing heaven. Trust that the one who bought your salvation is more than able to set you free!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
If you are at a point of success, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! Bear in mind; your current success does not have to be your last. When it is time to move forward again, do not be afraid. Choose to press on!
If you are at a point of failure, don’t quit, don't quit, don't quit! Failure does not have to be fatal! Choose to let it go and move on.
And should you find yourself plunged into fear or despair's paralyzing grip of quicksand? Be still. Give God the baggage of your questions and concerns and then lean back in faith. Trust the faithfulness of your Heavenly Father to sustain you until His answer comes.
Don’t stop now! This roller-coaster ride called transition soon will come to an end, and you will be shifting gears to ride unimpeded on the wide-open highway ahead.