perspective on life

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.

4 Things Common to All Transitions Read More »

12 things I have lived long enough to know

The repetitive nature of the daily news is an indication of how old a person is getting and hopefully an impetus to garner some wisdom from it all. Recently I realized I’ve been ingesting a regurgitation of the same sound bites for over 50 years. How could it be that I’ve spent my entire life monitoring global hotspots in Africa and the Middle East, sword rattling over oil supplies and nuclear weapons, uncertain market forecasts, political campaign mudslinging, dastardly mind-boggling crimes and the latest woes of local sports teams?

I couldn’t help but think of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who looking back over his long life threw his hands up in frustration and said “Meaningless, meaningless . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (1:2) Then he asks the question of the ages: “What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” (1:3) This question essentially frames the answers he paints on the canvas of the rest of the book

I’ve taken some of those brush strokes of wisdom to embellish a sampling of what I’ve learned from my many years of making meaning of the repetitious nature of life.

I am calling them twelve things I’ve lived long enough to know . . .

1. Increasing the number of channels will never solve the problem of why there isn’t anything worth watching on TV. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. (1:8)

2. Living through a Southeast Asian war, a cold war and several Gulf wars has convinced me there will always be oppressors and attempts to dethrone them. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. (1:9 NLT) Jesus: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. (Matthew 24:6)

3. Doing what you love to do is the most rewarding employment there is. So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here. (3:22 NLT)

12 things I have lived long enough to know Read More »

When Adversity Forces a Defining Decision

There are times in everyone’s life when God uses adversity to force us to make a defining decision. Adversity is necessary because without it we gravitate to what is comfortable and predictable. And if we never venture beyond that we will never discover God’s progressive will for our lives and experience the fullness for which He has created us.

One of the great studies of how God connects the dots of adversity and uses them to direct a person’s life is in Genesis 26. This chapter chronicles a tumultuous period of time in the life of the patriarch Isaac, following the death of his father Abraham. Isaac, the child of promise, who had been placidly floating down the river of life, suddenly hits a series of rapids.

First a famine strikes, bringing severe economic hardship to this agrarian herdsman. Not unlike the effects of a modern day loss of employment Isaac is forced to pull up stakes, leave his life long home and move to a foreign land to survive. But ironically, he finds God there and the encouragement he needs to stay and decides to make the most of it. (1-6)

As promised, God blesses him in this place of exile. And contrary to conventional wisdom, he experiences greater success there than if he would have remained on the homestead. His crops yield a hundred fold, his livestock multiply and he becomes a “very wealthy” man. Isaac even taps into some of the wells his father Abraham dug years earlier during a similar period of exile in his life. Those wells provide the life giving water needed to sustain his burgeoning operation. (12-13) What a great time for Isaac to write a best selling reversal-of-fortune book entitled “Famine, the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me!”

But wait, don’t get too comfortable Isaac! Just around the bend there are more rapids. This time he hits the churning waters of opposition. His growing economic influence stirs up the envy of his hosts, the Philistines. One after another they stop up all of his wells and then he is nearly capsized when the king issues an edict that he must leave. God’s blessing upon his life seemingly evaporates and once again he is unsettled. (14-16)

Under pressure, he reverts back to the familiar and chooses to live at another place where his father once had some wells. He proceeds to reopen Abraham’s wells and even gives them the same names. (17-18) But through all of this, God is continuing to work in his life. Like a mother eagle de-feathering the nest of her eaglet, God is pressing Isaac to spread his own wings and fly. It is a defining moment in Isaac’s life. He has a choice. He can either continue to rely upon the identity and achievements of his father or he can launch out and begin to establish his own identity by digging his own wells.

Clinging to the predictability of the past and relying on the work of another is never fully satisfying. Living in the shadow of his father is limiting his potential and ultimately compromising his own unique calling. Isaac is in the land between his past and his future, between promise and fulfillment. Through this turmoil of soul, God is producing a battle hardened faith and persistence within Isaac that is necessary to propel him through the waters of adversity into blessing.

He finally steps out in faith and begins digging to find his own well of water. Like an eaglet nudged from its nest into free flight for the first time, it can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. And that process is not without its struggles. Sometimes it takes repeated efforts before someone can truly fly on their own. It took Isaac three successive attempts at digging his own wells before he finally found a well that he could call his own. The first two wells he found he named “opposition” and “dispute” because of the major resistance he met from the Philistines. They claimed the wells were theirs and would not let him settle there.

Finally on the third attempt, he finds a well that no one quarrels with him over. It is a defining breakthrough in his life. In fact he names it Rehoboth, which means “room” and declares “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (22)

Was this where God wanted him to be all along? Probably. Did God use adversity in his life to get him there? Definitely. Did God protect and provide for him along the way? Most certainly.

A number of years ago, God used this passage of Scripture as encouragement for me to step out in faith and make a career change.

When Adversity Forces a Defining Decision Read More »

Connecting the Dots in Adversity

Can you think of a time when God took a loss, disappointment or failure and turned it into something good? In my last blog post I introduced the topic of connecting the dots. It is a game changer because when a person can look back and see God’s hand at work in their life in the past, it gives strength and purpose in both coping with the present and facing the future.

It is my conviction based upon the Scriptures that God’s hand is upon every individual even from before their birth. (Psalm 139:13-16) Our parentage, given name and early childhood all have the imprint of His loving intention and care. In my last blog I posed a question to help each of us begin to connect these early dots of life and shared some of my personal reflections as an illustration.

Here now is a second question to help serve as an aid in connecting the dots of adversity in our lives.

2. Looking back can you think of a time when you were forced to do or experience something that you would not have chosen but in the end it turned out to be a great blessing? Given some time to ponder this question you are likely to discover some amazing ways in which God’s hand has been upon your life when you least expected it. This is what it means to connect the dots of life.

Gaining such a perspective usually requires the passage of time and prayerfully asking for God’s help.

For instance, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized my suffering a broken leg as a child is what God used to pay my way through college.

Connecting the Dots in Adversity Read More »

Connecting the Dots: Birth, Name & Childhood

The older I get, the more I realize that the secret to living both an overcoming and a purposeful life is in maintaining a Godly perspective. In that regard it might be said that seeing things from God’s perspective is everything. Having God’s perspective enables us to connect the dots of life in a way that give our lives meaning and purpose.

I’ve found that when I lose sight of God’s hand upon my life and am unable to connect the dots, I begin to founder in unbelief and sink into the depths of doubting God’s faithfulness.

Contrary to what they say – hindsight is not always 20/20. Truth be told, without God’s help, it is sometimes impossible to connect the dots of life. The busyness of life blurs it. Adversity and failures in life obscure it. And even our successes can distort it. And being a victor or a victim and living above our circumstances or under them teeter-totters in the balance.

But when a person can look back and see God’s hand at work, even in the midst of adversity, they can often begin to connect the dots of their life. And that ability to connect the dots gives confidence for both coping with the present and facing the future. Such confidence is based in the fact and reliance upon God’s faithfulness. He is who He says He is, and will do what He said He will do.

In Genesis chapter 26 we are given a glimpse into a tumultuous period of time in the life of Isaac. It chronicles his sojourn immediately after his father Abraham’s death, through famine and exile, blessing and prosperity, rejection and loss, dispute and opposition, into a final breakthrough that opens new horizons for him. It concludes with God’s healing of his past and establishing him as a patriarch in his own right, beyond the shadow and influence of his father.

Observations from this slice of Isaac’s life give us insight into how God connects the seemingly unrelated dots in our lives. God’s intent and purpose for Isaac is the same for each of us. He wants us to know that we are children of promise, chosen and named before our birth for His eternal purposes. (Genesis17:19 & Ephesians 1:5 & 11)

He wants us to know that our lives have meaning and significance in His grand plan. (Ephesians 2:10)

Here are several questions to consider that will help give perspective to your life and enable you to connect the dots.

Connecting the Dots: Birth, Name & Childhood Read More »

Scroll to Top