June and I are in a life transition from leading the church we helped found and serve for 45 years as Senior Pastors, to a new season of consulting and itinerate ministry. In my previous blog, “A New Rhythm”, I said we believe this move is right and timely for us but feel ‘in between’ where we were and where we’re going. There are inherent challenges in any major change in life—good and not so good. Some days we feel like confident pioneers on an exciting adventure. Other days we pray for courage to face the challenges of new rhythms for living life in this new season. I saw from the responses to my last blog that there are many of you in a life transition season, too. Let’s encourage each other along the way.
When I was a young boy I loved watching Saturday morning ‘Western’ shows with my dad. Actors like John Wayne, Randolph Scott and my dad’s favorite, Gary Cooper were not just actors, they were role models. “Westerns” usually had a scene where the hero had to go through a narrow mountain pass as he traveled between two fields. We always knew that some “bad guys” were going to try to “head ‘em off at the pass.” It seemed the bad guys found the pass an opportune situation to rob or kill the good guys. The phrase “head ‘em off at the pass” is now embedded in American culture. It’s taken on the meaning to meet our challenges in the pass with a mind to push through to the other side. A quote made famous by John Wayne is a good example of facing fears with courage, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway!” He didn’t deny that strong men were afraid of a challenge as he also said, “All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.” Like me, you may have faced narrow passes when you would rather be someplace else.
There is often a trio of “bad guys” lying in wait at the in-between pass. The first is a loss of confidence that makes you feel powerless. The second is a sense of uncertainty that makes you feel alone. The third is the unknown part of your journey that brings anxiety. Like a trusty Winchester rifle to the cowboy I’ve found a single verse to be helpful in defeating these bad guys. II Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He has given a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a sound mind.” It helps me to realise there are three things God has given us to overcome the bad guys. The first is a spirit of power to overcome a sense of powerlessness. The second thing He’s given, is a spirit of love to overcome a sense of uncertainty. And the third thing is soundness of mind (choosing to believe God’s truth, not the enemy’s lies) that defeats anxiety. It’s important to know there is one thing God has not given us that we don’t have to put up with. “God has NOT given us a spirit of fear.” Fear is the enemy of faith. Fear when unchallenged will keep us in-between where we were yesterday with where God has destined us for tomorrow. We all want to be fearless, till we have to be. If God did not give fear then we don’t have to give in to it!
I’ve found that heading off your fears at the pass doesn’t always seem reasonable. In fact many times retreating to where you were seems a safer, albeit lesser option. In these times it’s good to saddle up and meet our life transition challenges with a Clint Eastwood attitude from The Outlaw Josey Wales, “I tried being reasonable. I didn’t like it.”
If you are in an in-between place of life transition, you are not alone. Jesus said He will never leave you or forsake you. God has given you what you need to press through the in-between pass. I encourage you to do three things that have helped me:
#1. If you are fortunate enough to have good friends then process your thoughts, feelings and challenges with them. Ask them to pray with you and hold you accountable.
#2. Hold onto the hope found in Psalm 18:19, “He has brought (and will bring) me out into a spacious place; He rescued me (and will rescue me) because He delights in me.”
#3. Rest in Gods’ unreasonable love as you saddle up and ride forward in peace.
We would like to hear your thoughts about our blog. There is space for your comments below. And we love to receive cards or letters at P.O. Box 304, Russellville, Arkansas, 72811-0304, U.S.A. We’ll send another update soon to let you know how our transition goes. Do pray for us as we’ll continue to pray for you.
Wayne & June
(If you would like to give an end of the year financial gift or contribute regularly you can make checks to Wayne Drain Ministries and send to the address above, or you can click the donate button on our site. It’s tax deductible. And we would appreciate it.)