THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
We all go through seasons of life. Some of those seasons are filled with lighthearted moments of laughter, pleasant memories, enjoyable experiences, and a true sense of direction. Other seasons are filled with disappointments, unexpected challenges, conflict, and emotional turmoil. Still other seasons are primarily defined by confusion, unanswered questions, self-doubt and seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. The seasons come and the seasons go, but one thing remains constant — there will be change in whatever season we find ourselves in now.
The past 5 months have been one of “those” seasons in my life. You know the type of season I’m talking about…..the one where it seems like nothing goes according to your plans. There have been times over the past few months when I’ve felt a lot like good ole’ Charlie Brown dealing with his own almost insurmountable life issues…..GOOD GRIEF!
Interestingly enough this current season in my life started on a high note. After an unexpected departure from a job I loved a few months earlier, God opened an expanded door of ministry where I had previously only been serving part time. In addition, I felt called to launch my own new independent initiative to elevate the Christian expression back into organization I had previously served. As this season started I had just gone public with a new website, a Facebook page, and laid out some fairly aggressive plans to build on this foundation across the country.
Then it happened……completely unexpectedly! My life and plans somewhat got put on hold by a sudden hospitalization, a cancer diagnosis, several months of hormone therapy, 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments, and a nasty fall that left me with some lingering injuries that I’m actually still dealing with over a month later. If that wasn’t enough, the church where I am privileged to serve is walking through some major transitions and I’ve personally assumed a much larger workload replacing two others. My original plans for the Spring and Summer were simply blown out of the water……home projects, vacation time, fundraising for the new ministry launch, a writing project, visiting my kids and grandkids, …..you know, all those things on my list that you thought I was going to get to!
I’d like to say I’ve got this all figured out now, but I don’t. As the title of this post suggests, “the journey continues”. I don’t know what the next weeks and months are going to hold but I want to keep moving forward. Three months from now I’ll find out the results of the cancer treatments, which I’m told should be positive. I have a full schedule of work ahead of me, football games to attend this fall, a vacation planned for December, and a “honey do list” that is sure to fill my time. But I’ve come to accept the reality that all of those things are actually “tentative” based on whatever is going to happen next that I don’t know about yet.
When you really think about it, our whole life has to be operated in that way. We have no guarantees that anything is really going to work out as we plan. We can certainly put in the due diligence, lay out a direction for moving forward, and work toward that end. But none of us really knows if we will be able to follow through on those plans. Like the saints of old we have to say, “If God wills……I will”.
The “unexpected” is really not all that “unexpected”. We may not see it from where we are now, but we should “expect” that “unexpected” things are going to happen. There will be that health challenge, that financial setback, the relational struggle, an increase of stress on the job, an emotional valley, the loss of a loved one, or challenging struggle. Such things will happen, but the journey continues.
Someone once told me that life is like climbing a mountain. You have to put one foot in front of the other, but don’t be surprised to find that it’s uphill most of the way. Oh, there will be some beautiful sights along the journey, some exhilarating downhill stretches where everything is easy, some momentary respites under the shade of the trees or by the still of a lake, and some peaceful starlight nights of tranquility. But the goal isn’t to sit on the sidelines, but to keep climbing to the top. Our goal is the summit, and you don’t get there by curling up on the sidelines and waiting to be airlifted.
I’m excited today because I am beginning to feel like this “season” of turmoil and setbacks is drawing to a conclusion. I sense a spirit of anticipation building inside of me that the next season is going to be much more peaceful, filled with many more pleasant experiences, and yet challenging as I move into new levels of both responsibility and effectiveness. I believe my new initiative will take off this fall, my beloved Oregon Ducks football team will have a banner year, I’ll enjoy a much needed vacation, things at our church will both settle down and significantly move forward, and I’ll get a clean bill of health. There’s almost a tangible sense that the next season is going to be much more enjoyable than the last.
Then again, the journey continues. What will happen in the weeks and months ahead? How will my sense of well-being be impacted by what happens to myself or to my family members? Where will the next wall or hurdle be that will require my focused attention to overcome? Reality states that we can only live one moment at a time. Those moments collectively add up to a season, and the seasons add up to our lives. There’s no skipping ahead to the end…..we have to live through each season with whatever resources we can muster, asking God to guide us on the journey.
As I look back over this most recent past season, with all of its challenges, I still sense I have not been alone on the journey. I not only have felt the support of my wife and family, my closest friends, and the church where I serve, but I’ve never doubted that God knew everything that was happening. These events have certainly set my time frames back as I’ve worked through the obstacles thrown my way, but I haven’t lost hope or sense that the direction has changed. It’s been a season with more downs than ups……but then again, like a roller coaster, life truly is made up of both experiences. And, at least in my past, the thrill has come by holding on as I’ve ridden through both!
Perhaps there’s someone reading this who is going through “that season” in their own life when things don’t make a lot of sense. I want to encourage you to look at your current circumstances as just that……a season that will pass sooner or later, ushering in something much more pleasant. And, if the season you’re in now is going really, really well……HOLD ON! Things can change in a moment, forcing you once again to rely on that which doesn’t not falter with the ups and downs of life. For me that rock of stability has come from my faith. I can’t imagine going through this journey without it. Christ is the Rock that has held me steady through all the seasons of my life.
Don’t get me wrong….I’m ready for this season to end! But even if it doesn’t for a while, I’m not afraid to face whatever may lie ahead. The journey continues…..and it’s bound to have a few unexpected twists, turns, and thrills ahead.