Handling Life's Transitions
By Susan Cushman
There is a place almost no one wants to go – a place where self-confidence fades, the compass breaks, and familiar landmarks disappear. I call this place In Between.
In Between is where you reside after you discover your current job or ministry is ending, and before you know what is next. It is not difficult to spot someone who is there. Our missionary friend will not be able to return to the country where she gladly and sacrificially poured out her life the past six years. Civil unrest broke out and the government will not renew her visa. The pain in her eyes when she talks about it tells us she is In Between.
My husband, Chuck, and I were In Between seven years ago, when we felt the Lord leading us to place our church-planting ministry into someone else’s hands before we knew where God was leading us next. I’ll never forget the day we moved out of our home in the small town that had become our world. We hugged under a pine tree in the rain and I sobbed, “It’s like being squeezed out of a toothpaste tube.” It was confusing and painful, and it was another six months before we knew where we were going next.
Although In Between is a difficult place, it is also a place where God meets us, and where He gently shapes our lives, and prepares us for the future – if we let Him.
Amazing things happen when our work and the sense of self-worth we gain from it are stripped away. We stand in that unfamiliar place, vulnerable, humble, and completely open before God. Life stops, and in the quiet, we struggle to hear His voice.
It is important to protect this precious place, and to guard ourselves from making wrong turns. While we are In Between, new opportunities and the conflicting advice of well-meaning friends may bombard us. It is crucial to pray, spend plenty of time reading the Word, and carefully seek God’s will before making major decisions. Sometimes, we do not see what lies ahead simply because it is so new and different and beyond our imagination. It takes time for God to show us these things.
When Chuck and I were going through that painful transition seven years ago, we had no idea of the joys that awaited us in our current ministry.
In Between isn’t the no man’s land it first appears to be. It is a destination, a refuge where God meets us, cleanses us, and prepares us before we embark on the next assignment. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we experience the blessings found there.