From the President: Transitions

This is my final “Through My Window” article as MN South District President. I’ve served for two terms and will retire August 31. Our convention in June elected Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford to serve as our new District President. I’ve already prayed for him often as he transitions from parish ministry to that of ecclesiastical supervision. In his first year, he will no doubt be sucking on the proverbial firehose. I hope you will pray for him and encourage him, too, as he begins his service on September 1.

Transition is what our new president and I have in common. We will both be living in the middle of in-between for a time, repositioning, as they call it today. No doubt you’ve experienced something of this in your life. Truthfully, life is a series of transitions, and it seems to me that what matters most in a transition is to make the most of what matters.

Several years ago a very wise 14-year old, Jason Lehman, wrote a little poem titled “Present Tense,” which reads in part:

I was 20,

But it was 30 I wanted,

To be mature

And sophisticated.

I was middle-aged,

But it was 20 I wanted,

The youth

And the free spirit.

I was retired,

But it was middle age I wanted.

The presence of mind

Without limitations.

My life was over,

But I never got what I wanted.

(Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1989)

Even in transition, maybe especially in transition, it is important to live in the present tense. Otherwise, we will miss what the Lord is doing right now with His grace along the way. Otherwise, we will miss the relationships which bless us so richly. Getting from here to there doesn’t mean we leave people or values or callings in our dust. The time between the chapters of our lives matters. IN such times God grows our capacity for prayer, courage, perseverance, and hope.  

As I transition into retirement, I have some idea of what it might look like, but most of it is hazy. No doubt the same is true for Pastor Woodford as he takes on his new calling. Yet to live in the mist for a while, or the fog, or the mystery of things unknown, is not a bad thing. Wanderings, as in Israel’s transition to the Promised Land, do have their place in God’s plan for us. We do well to stay in the moment even when walking deserts or bridges.

Life here, after all, in all of its sad and joyous chapters, is a transition. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor 13:12 NKJV).