October 2012

4 Things Common to All Transitions

Being on the crest of the baby boomer wave, those born between 1946 and 1964, now beginning to break upon the shores of the senior years, gives one a unique perspective. Despite the fact that we need glasses to read everything within arm’s length, anyone who has survived six decades of the passages of life navigating through both calm and stormy seas, still has the capability of 20/20 hindsight. As a new member of this fast growing salty-dog club, if you will, I found it insightful to gaze back upon the many stages and phases of life through which I have passed, many of them associated simply with aging. In the process I have been giving serious consideration to those aspects of inevitable change which are common to everyone and how best with God’s help, to learn to cope with such transitions.

Recently I gave a sermon at church in which I shared a biblical model for the three major passages of life based on 1 John 2:12-14. Titling it “Transition Lenses for the Passages of Life” I covered seven different phases of life through which everyone must pass and the purposes of God meant to be instilled along the way. Using an audience response system to poll everyone I discovered a startling fact. 80% of all those in attendance at both services acknowledged that they felt they were “in some phase of a major transition” in their life right now. That was true spanning every age, and interestingly enough, particularly for the 46-55 age bracket.

What I have discovered is that there are at least four things which everyone experiences when faced with navigating a transition, be it an inevitable passage of life, or a change of choice for a preferred future. Recognizing these common responses to change has helped me immensely in appropriating God’s sustaining grace as I learn to adapt. I pray that they can do the same for you.

Spiritual Warfare – Rule #1

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12

“You can’t defeat the enemy unless you identify the enemy.” Those are the very words I heard myself declaring in a dream I had several months ago. It was one of those morning dreams you recall just as you are waking up. All I could remember was the setting, a church, and I was preaching. Beyond that the only other fragment of the dream I retained was that phrase, and it was reverberating again and again in my soul. It impressed me as being a very important sermon and I wish I could have heard myself say more.

Being at a stage in life when I have kindly been classified as a senior, I have come to appreciate the scripture that says “your old men will dream dreams.” (Joel 2:28) It is a wonderful promise for any man whose hair is thinning, receding and/or turning gray. Check, check, check, yep, all the above. So when I dream, it could be God speaking and I’ve learned to listen.

As it turned out, it was indeed a very timely word from God for me and necessary reminder of an important spiritual principle. In the spiritual realm we have enemies and we are at war. And as in any natural war, unless we can clearly identify the enemy, we will always be vulnerable, under attack, on the run and ultimately defeated. That is rule #1 in spiritual warfare.

A Startling Impression of Europe

As most readers of my blog know, my wife and I recently returned from a month’s vacation in Europe visiting the countries of Turkey, Greece, Italy and France. Most of our time was spent in the big cities of Istanbul, Rome and Paris but we had opportunity to travel to many smaller hamlets as well. As an American from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul I was intrigued by a number of distinct differences, and in some cases even stark contrasts, between everyday life as we know it here in the heartland and life there. But surprisingly, it was a few startling similarities that most garnered my attention and gave me pause. If Samuel Morse were alive today he would be texting rather than telegraphing but his question would be essentially the same: “what hath America wrought?”

For simplicities sake, here are my observations and impressions of life across the pond, listed in no particular order, except that I am saving the answer to the Morse question until the end.

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