We can’t move forward if we keep looking back. Seems pretty obvious, right? But some things make it hard to stop trying to catch a glimpse of days gone by in the rearview mirror.
For me, it’s having kids that have grown and launched into the world (Yes, praise the Lord! But golly, I miss them!) Or friends who moved away. Or those who stayed behind when I was the one who moved across the country. And don’t get me started on how much I miss having a body that could once work all day, stay up all night and still look and feel fresh and energized the next morning!
There are a lot of life transitions that move us naturally from one happy season into another.
Going from school to the working world. From old job to new. From early marriage to parenthood. From a full house to an empty nest. No matter how natural or positive the new stage of life, sometimes leaving the old season behind can be bittersweet.
So what do we do when a season of life we’ve enjoyed comes to an end? When the plan we were living so comfortably with, knew so well and felt pretty happy about naturally flows into something new and unfamiliar?
We know we need to let go, but how?
We understand that only by letting go of the old life we’re clutching (just me?) will we be able to open up our hands and hearts to the new life God wants for us. (Luke 17:33) But how do we do that?
Well, first we will probably need to wander for a bit. Take our time and do a little exploring of this new territory we find ourselves in. Give ourselves permission to not know exactly where we are or where we’re going.
If you’re like me, the thought of not having a plan doesn’t sound very enticing. But just like we wouldn’t expect ourselves to know our way in the wilderness, we’ll need to pause before setting off confidently down this new path. Without taking some time to explore, we might get stuck and stubbornly refuse to budge. But as we wander through this new terrain, we’ll begin to find our way and figure out how and where we fit in. And we just might be surprised to discover some options we would miss if we rush.
As we get our bearings, we need to recall God’s promises.
We can believe God when he says that no matter what changes in our circumstances, His character never does. He is and remains mighty to save. And it is His voice we hear singing over us. (Zeph. 3:17)
God’s plan for us is unwavering, unchanging and simple: That we know Him and know His love. That we receive His gift of forgiveness through Christ and understand that we belong to Him. That we glorify and give Him thanks, so others will see and experience His goodness and grace. And that we believe His promises are true in every circumstance, every season and every stage of life.
God promises that He will be with us and never leave us. So we can let go of trying to control the seasons of our lives and learn to live by faith. (Romans 1:17)
Faith that this new season and the future belong to God.
That He has not forgotten us.
That the plan He has for us is still good.
That He is not finished with us yet.
That in Him our joy will once again be abundant and full.
And then? Look up with trusting eyes and watch where we’re going.
Jesus said He came so we – you and me – would have rich and satisfying lives. (John 10:10) Not just one or two rich and satisfying seasons. But whole lives filled with His peace and presence.
So don’t look back for too long.
Yes, life brings changes with each new season. And some things are harder to leave behind than others.
So we’ll wander around a bit in this new territory. Then we’ll remember that no matter how happy and content we were in the old place, we can trust God to lead us into what’s next. Because while the seasons of life change, God’s perfect love and plan for us never will.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)