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How God speaks to us thru transitions

So, I’ve been in a place of personal transition and it has spilled over to this blog. It’s not a huge change in life; it’s not prompted by need or crisis – I’m just blessed to have some strong leaders who have come alongside me at work and freed me up to re-focus. And so it’s a season of asking q…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
So, I’ve been in a place of personal transition and it has spilled over to this blog. It’s not a huge change in life; it’s not prompted by need or crisis – I’m just blessed to have some strong leaders who have come alongside me at work and freed me up to re-focus. And so it’s a season of asking questions about purpose and methods.
My purpose in life is to help others discover how to live the abundant life that Jesus came to bring. The purpose of this blog is to help us all navigate through the tricky
cultural waters of an affluent society that has a corrosive effect in
our spiritual lives. I needed to take a break and somehow assess if reality is in alignment with purpose. And in your responses, you, the members of this blog community, have been wonderfully helpful and encouraging. Again, let me say thank you. I’ve got some things brewing about re-purposing the blog I’ll share tomorrow. [I intend to cut back some and I’d like to help some of you step up some, particularly those of you who are called to help broken people find healing. If you’re at all interested, please let me know.]
But this morning the Lord showed me a few things about the purpose of transitions that I’ll pass along. When a transition like the one I’m going through comes, God usually wants to speak through it. He wants to jolt us out of the status quo so that, like a pilot, we can run through a series of checks to help ascertain what may need to change. Here are four checks I’m going through at present. Consider applying them to your own transition.
1. Circumstance-check. Let’s say you got fired or laid off at work. You can either cuss out your boss for not appreciating your talent, or you can ask yourself what you could have done differently. Many of us need to “manage up” better – we need to become more accountable and communicate better to the people to whom we’re accountable. What do they want and need from us? We have more in our control than we may realize. Often the lesson God is trying to communicate with a circumstance-check is to take responsibility and stop being a victim.

2. Discipline-check. Part of my issue was, I was going through a dry patch in my life and needed to know if God was calling me to “power through it” or to rest.  As it turns out, it was both. Your encouragement did wonders for my spirit. But regardless, I don’t get to walk away from something God has called me to – rest is necessary, but after resting, we often need to just redouble our efforts if God’s call hasn’t changed. Young people especially need to learn what it means to practice self-denial and commitment when they’ve got an assignment from him. It’s a generational blind spot that afflicts millions.
3. Comfort-check. Some of us were getting to a place of comfort with this blog. Earlier I compared the blog to the Cheers bar – and that kind of comfortable place is a good thing; it’s isn’t what I’m talking about. If God has used the blog to help you grow, then probably he wants you to use that place of greater maturity to minister in faith more. God wants us to depend on him, yet we want to rely on ourselves. And so we are forever creating comfort zones that exclude him. As an act of grace, he prompts a transition that, while making us uncomfortable, increases our dependence on him. To miss this point is to miss the dance of faith that God gives to us as a gift.
4. Focus-check.  Are we in alignment with our purpose and call? When I met Charles Kaye, he was a successful hedge fund manager trying to bring his life into alignment with his call as a missionary to Nicaragua. It required a hard transition, but he and his family are so much more fulfilled now that they sold their farm in Charlottesville and moved. More of us need to schedule a fire sale for the things that are holding us back from our life’s purpose.
If you’re in a place like me, I hope you’ll take the time to go through these checks on the instrument panel of your life. Recognize that often God is looking for us to seek him more intently. And recognize that he usually wants to give us more of three things: relationship, information, and wisdom. The paradox is that as we seek him for wisdom or for more data, we often discover that what he really wants is greater depth in our relationship with him.

Comments (13)

  • Hi Seth,

    It’s good to “be” around people who are not stagnant. Even here in cyberspace. Great to read about the movement in and around you.

    Something in your expressions lead me to a comparison between Psalm 23:2b where “He leads me beside the still waters” and Rev 22:1 where He is showing us a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

    I became intrigued with these verses this morning, and I need to study them more. But what grabs me just from glancing at them is that the rest we experience sometimes is indeed still compared to the kind of rest He is bringing us towards through this still kind of rest. The rest in the Psalm seems to be calming, restorative, comforting, encouraging and revelatory. The rest in Revelation seems to be involving forward motion, clarity, process/progress. Could it be that one is a precursor to the other? Some things in our inner selves must soak in some still waters before our spiritual muscles are ready for a white water rafting trip, which can also be very rejuvenating and relaxing but in a much different way.

    I pray you both.

    After I quit my private practice last year in order to devote myself entirely to a different type of ministry, I thought it would happen instantly. Instead He lead me to some still waters and I have been on a Sabbatical ever since. I was not as aware as He was that I have been running in high gear for decades. I needed to calm down, reassess, etc.

    So now I am coming out of this time and seeking where I belong. Patti and I met with Michael and Kathy Hindes last fall just to get to know them and explore what they are doing with the racers. I was thoroughly thrilled to hear that AIM takes such care to give their people a chance to process, be mentored, heal, etc…I may join the HIndes’s on one of their trips and see what comes of it. My passions are: bringing Life to people through God’s Word through the spoken word, writing, and walking with people through their inner healing journeys. I’m also contemplating seminary. So many things about it attract me and so many I’m not so sure about.

    I have gotten to know you guys a bit through Patti’s journey with you and have come to respect the purpose and the dedication to God I am witnessing here. After all, what good is it to serve people if we are not ministering to God with our own souls and minds.

    All that to say, may be this is a place for me to pour out in some form…

    Words of wisdom are welcome:)


  • AH Seth,
    This blog totally resonates with me. Transitions…so essential and so uncomfortable. I’m still going through one, feels like the end isn’t in sight. And I’m realizing He has got something for me, something good.

  • “The paradox is that as we seek him for wisdom or for more data, we often discover that what he really wants is greater depth in our relationship with him.” Absolutely.

    Just last night, I read a chapter in Yancey’s book “Prayer” on the silence of God. It seems I am far from being the only saint God has revealed Himself to, made His presence tangibly felt in a way that I felt I couldn’t live without, and then gone AWOL on me. It’s not that He isn’t there, it’s just that I have had no sense of His presence or His clear word in my ear for well over a year now. I’ve been kicking and screaming against it. Railing, complaining, frustrated, wondering what I have done wrong, assailed with doubts, and trying in the midst of it all to hang in there and still have faith.

    The chapter in that book told me one thing I needed to hear: that there are two ways of responding to the silence of God: with “depression, a sense of guilt and self-condemnation.” Or “to have an expectation that God is about to bring you to a deeper knowledge of Himself.” That second one is, I believe, the key.

    Discomfort in transition, in change of any kind, is not a bad thing in itself, horrible as it feels. It gives you a deep dissatisfaction to leave things as they are and offers you the option of choosing to change how you see God, how you respond to Him, how you let Him love you, how He speaks to you or acts in and through your life.

    I hate it! But I am realising again that He is Lord and He gets to choose. He knows what He is doing, even though I haven’t a clue what it looks like from where He is standing. It’s horrible giving up what is familiar yet again, but instead of holding on to my child’s pink plastic necklace, I think it’s time to recognise again that He has diamonds in His hand instead.

  • A few thoughts:

    * I believe and know that many out here are going through this transition – something is abrew in the spiritual realm, I believe.

    *The natural things around us are speaking of the invisible – just how bankrupt/corrupt are we?

    * “Reality in line with Purpose”: Gosh Seth, I could spend hours and days pondering this… Good stuff!

    * I want to help people reach their potential and their God-given talents and annointing to first be resurrected themselves, then to find joy, purpose, and fulfillment in bringing hope and life to others!

    * This high school teacher/coach/discipler IS going to make a difference. I’m open to what God would have me do here.

  • Seth,

    I just feel that God is fine tuning your life to fit in time with His. This is not nessarily about what we do or dont do. For example, Jesus brothers came up to him one day and encouraged him to go to Jerusalem with them and he refused. However, Jesus went a bit later on that day.Many might think “well whats the differance? Jesus might as well had gone when his brothers asked him!” but it is all about Gods perfect timing. Being in the right place at the right time and not always about this actual thing we are doing. (I do hope this is making sense?).

    We can spend a lifetime doing “Gods will” because we know the Lord has asked us to do something but still end up missing so much of His blessing or reaping a harvest just by doing things our way, our time instead of listening oh so carefully to the gentle breeze of His spirit.The bible says that those born of the spirit are like the wind, never knowing when it will change direction. Have you ever stood outside on a windy day? A gust comes from here, then there , then it disapears for a second then its back again from another direction. You can watch the leaves being blown in circles, then off in one direction etc. This is how God wants to fine tune your spirit.He wants you to lay down your life daily and listen so carefully in all you do.

    You might end up “doing” all the things you have done for the last 4 years but you will notice what an awesome difference it makes when you are doing it in His perfect timing.Live each day with Jesus whispering in your ear when to make certain phone calls, when to go out for a coffee break, when to type your letters. Let your day be spirit led and start seeing just how many divine appointments you start having.Walk in peace with Jesus leading the way.

    I have heard many times people pray “please Lord go before me/us”. The truth is very simple, when you follow Jesus He will ALWAYS go before you how else can you follow him?

    Peace in the middle of madness. The war is not going to end till He returns but God will give us the understanding of how to live in it without being exhausted.

    Hope this helps Seth? and Carol, England is seriously under a very oppresive darkness at present. There is a spiritual war breaking out over these skies and it is very difficult to hear the Lord right now. It might have been easier a year ago but things have changed. Be encouraged to seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him but its a battle, otherwise go to west Wales even for day , you will notice the difference even when you cross the boarder and beable to hear the Lord so much easier.

    “our fight is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers of this dark world”

  • Seth,

    How true and this was the path that God has taken me in the past six months.

    1. I hated the hours that I put into my job without the “true” satisfaction of helping people, it was all about the bottom line. God showed me that it was breaking my heart and soul and challenged me to trust in his choice in my life.

    2. He took my father from me and I cried why! He was the last of my biological family of that generation and I had “no one” to take care of any more. God laughed and challenged me to look in the mirror. He showed me that I had to take of my “real” self now not later. As a teen when I accepted his love, he sent me people from all walks of life and purpose and let me be a part of their lives and to help them trust in his plan for them. It was time to reembrace that gift, no matter what the cost.

    3. He showed me that I needed to be unemployed in the business world and that there were no real jobs out there for me. Yikes! He pulled all of my excuse blanket from under my feet and showed me that the warmth of his love and reaching out to those in need was all I needed. Of course the Unemployment checks helped:). He is realistic Father as well and understands that tasks and purpose go hand in hand. How else can we get from point a to point b.

    4. He had my girls show me face book and I really questioned the games and the ideas. It brought me back to Butch, Jodi, you, and many people all over the world who were drawn to me in their times of need. I shared with them the love that God has for them. It taught me that God had not taken my dad from me but had brought him home to his true Father. We had a party that day.

    5. I prayed for the chance to find a group locally where his love would mainfest thru me to help kids in need. He put this blog on my computer from no where and brought AIM into my life. Why, because he trusts you and the AIM family.

    6. He wakes me every night at 3 am for my God time and we talk, ok lately he does most of the talking, cheering and questions about lessons learned that day. This blog has touched so many lifes. Some folks shout it back to you and I am sure that their others who quietly give thanks.

    The Lord loves transitions as it gives him the opportunity to bring us one step at a time further on his map of life for us. We can scream and cry and wonder why his he doing this to me? Or we can scream, cry, dry our tears and put our doubts aside and raise our hands up to him and rejoice in the new ride.

    Blessing to you this wonderful day, thank the Lord for the rain and see it as happy tears from Heaven. They are cheering us all on!


  • Seth,

    Thank you – these words are not meant lightly. God has used you and this blog and the community connected to it to open my eyes to the things that break His heart…and it has changed me. I am going through transition too and have found it exhausting trying to hold onto that which I know to be familiar and comfortable. God is birthing something new in me and I am in the process of letting go and letting “It” come to life.

    I am praying for you during this time of transition.

    My passion is for the lost, hurting, and the least of these; to help others find hope in the grace of Jesus Christ; to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God”. The dream that God has etched on my heart is to love, serve, and breathe life into the orphans in Swaziland.

    I am interested in being a part of what God is re-purposing for this blog community…keep me posted.


  • I have been meditating on this in my lay off transition from my last employment of 23 years. I am still trusting God but I can relate to it feeling like God is AWOL.

    Isaiah 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

  • I am going through very similiar situation as yours, where suddeny God is silent, I am trying to do ministry to get into His presence again but God is still silent, I used to ask in frustration”God where are you” It seemed like the” long dark night of the soul” phase in my life. Its like God just want me to walk by faith, even when I don’t feel Him, to trust that He is with me. Its tough and really have to just believe He will not forsake me. Even my circle of friends has been removed and its like God just want me to focus on Him, very tough especially for someone who enjoys the company of friends, Lord help me to wait patiently and learn what You want me to learn in your silence.

  • Thank You so much for sharing. I’m in that transition phase at this moment and I’m so grateful for God guiding me to this site. I’m experiencing the “uncomfortable” phase at the moment but I’m also loving the personal time with God. I thank him for his grace and tender mercy.

  • I and the rest of the folks at http://www.religioustolerance.org conducted a pilot study to determine whether assessing the will of God through prayer actually works. We asked 85 volunteers with active prayer lives to assess the will of God on a controversial topic — same-sex marriage (SSM). Results of the small pilot study were that: Those who personally favored SSM found that God also favored it. Those who personally opposed SSM found that God also opposes it. God did not appear to disagree with any of the participants’ beliefs, even though they are in total conflict.
    We concluded that prayer is unreliable technique to assess the will of God. See: http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_pray.htm

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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