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Navigating the seasons of your life

Chelsea di Paolo wrote me this: “Someone told me, ‘You’re in a transitional season of life, so it’s hard for you to put roots down and really be involved with ministry.’ which is true, because i’m in a big transition…” Then she asked this question: What is the biblical basis for seasons of life…
By Seth Barnes

Chelsea di Paolo wrote me this: “Someone told me, ‘You’re in a transitional season of life, so it’s hard for you to put roots down and really be involved with ministry.’ which is true, because i’m in a big transition…” Then she asked this question: What is the biblical basis for seasons of life?”

Great question, Chelsea. I feel like I’m perpetually in a transitional season – I like change and welcome challenges. Most people seem to struggle a lot more with it. Some change is normal – we get it as we age and assume new roles. But a lot of the change we go through is brought on by our modern world and the opportunities it brings our way.
So many examples from Scripture we could reference:
Noah, Moses or Jesus – All had a long season of preparation and then suddenly were thrust into a place of leadership.
Timothy – Was unusually mature, so Paul told him not to allow others to diminish his role because of his youth.
Elizabeth and Sarah – Had their dreams for a child deferred, but had their faith rewarded.
Nehemiah – Was taken out of a secular role and given a great project to do.
David – Was given greater responsibility for his nation as he matured.
One thing that seems common to all of them is the issue of timing and perspective. Jesus knew that Lazarus would eventually be raised from the dead, so he delayed going to him for two days. He understood God’s timing. So often we may be going through a time when we’re being asked to wait and we just need perspective.
One of the things I’ve been learning for the last couple of years is the importance of knowing what hill to die on. So many things I could do, but what’s really important? Understanding the season that I’m in helps me prioritize. I am better able to set certain desires on the shelf, knowing their time hasn’t come yet.
We can see some common themes and challenges at each stage of life. As children, our experience base and perspective is limited. We need wise counsel to see the bigger picture. We need a Copernican revolution – we need to realize that the universe doesn’t revolve around us. Then as we get older we see more of God’s design and we come to trust him more. Eventually we have the opportunity to partner with him and build his kingdom with him.
You may not have found your calling yet, but notice the ministry to which you’re called right now. Look around you and you’ll find people who need ministry no matter what season you find yourself in. When I was unemployed, I took time to visit a local nursing home to lead a Bible study. I break life down into four basic seasons, each with it’s own specific challenges.
Child   
Challenge: Learning independence. Psychologists call the process “individuation.”
Lesson: “I am significant. I can contribute.”
Young adult 
Challenge: Getting over narcissism and into identity
Lesson: “I am not all that, but I can make a difference. God has a purpose for my life I need to discover.”
Parent   
Challenge: Finding community
Lesson: “I belong to something bigger than me. I have a stewardship.”
Grandparent 
Challenge: Leaving a legacy
Lesson: “I have an inheritance to give. I still have time to build the kingdom.”
Whatever season you find yourself, your life will go better for you if you abide in Christ. Rest in him and allow him to speak to you while you’re waiting for the future to arrive.
What season of life are you in? What is God teaching you in it? Have you overcome the challenges of that season and learned the lesson that God wants you to learn?
A good book on the subject:  Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life by Chuck Swindoll

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