I often write about living our God-given purpose through walking in faith and doing the things God calls us to. I write about that because it’s been really hard for me to do at times, but so incredibly rewarding when I do it well. I see how God works by giving us passions, calling us to use them in the most unexpected ways, and how much joy and peace blossom when we not only have faith, but live by it. That’s why I was so shocked when God recently led me to the realization that it was time for me to walk away from some things that have been the very result of that type of obedience.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had to step away from people that you love, been told your time was up in a role you weren’t ready to quit, or had to move from a place of comfort into foreign territory. While part of me wants to ask why I have to step away from these particular things at this particular time, I’m learning to ask why not? When I asked God that question, He gave me three pearls that changed my perspective on unwanted change.
Walking away is not the same thing as running away.
One of the concerns with moving on is that we are abandoning something or someone. The things God is asking me to leave behind are things that I have been dedicated to, relationships that I have poured into, and roles that I have worked hard to fulfill. Stepping away from these roles feels initially like I am abandoning post, and jumping ship. It’s not that I don’t think anyone can take my place, but I am a little afraid no one will. And I definitely don’t want to be seen as someone who is running away. After so much of my heart has been poured into the people I have served, I don’t want them to think I never really cared.
Jesus spoke to the cost of being a disciple. Luke 14:33 says “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Jesus was making it clear that his disciples serve God, not people. If He calls us away from something, we have to follow the One we serve, not the thing He called us to do while serving him. We can walk away knowing we are actually walking toward a God who loves us. That same God also loves the people He asks us to step away from and will call them in a new direction as well. We can assure those we are stepping away from (and ourselves) that we are not running away, we are all walking in the same direction. We are following a God that loves us all, and we are each on our own path. Our paths cross for a time, and sometimes our paths part and go in different directions. Staying on our path isn’t running away, God knows that, and the people that love us do, too.
The chapter you complete doesn’t get erased, it becomes part of the book.
I said that this was a change I wasn’t quite ready for, in part because I didn’t want to say goodbye to those roles I had fulfilled for so long and all the people that had come to mean so much to me. I had never imagined that God would ask me to end this chapter so suddenly. God spoke this beautiful pearl to me that gave me assurance that, while I needed to move on to a new season, the results of my work would remain. Our friendships don’t have to end because we start new ones. Anything I started was a foundation for someone else to build upon. Seasons come and seasons go, but the fruit of God-inspired efforts remain a part of the story.
In the book of Acts Paul travels to many places to tell people about Jesus and help the early churches get started. Some places he stayed for a long time, and others only brief periods, yet they are all recorded for us to read. I can imagine that Paul had to feel some sadness in parting ways with the people and places he had served, yet he did it, and if he didn’t we wouldn’t have a whole book to read. It’s hard to transition from one season to the next, but hopefully at the end of this life we will have a book of stories to tell along with a lifetime of people who have touched our lives as much as we have theirs. After all, the author of my story already knows what my next chapter needs to be.
Sometimes giving something up is necessary to free up room for something better.
Many times, we find ourselves holding on when we should let go. Maybe that job you have now is good, but God has something even better for you. Some seasons are rough and we beg God to bring change; but when times are good, why are we resistant to move when the same God is the one calling us? At the end of Luke chapter 9 Jesus addresses our desires to look back and dwell in the past. Verse 62 says “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Our focus needs to be on where God is taking us, not where we have been. God also commands us to have a Sabbath, a time when we can reflect on our past and what God has done for us, in us, and through us. This verse is a reminder that when God calls you to go, that’s the time to move forward and not look back. When we do follow in the direction God is leading us, 1 Peter 2:5 reminds us that we are living stones being built into a spiritual house that is for His glory. The next thing He calls us to is the next stone he needs to add to further his kingdom, and He has called YOU to be a part of it. It’s an honor that we should take joy in. After all, God can’t lift us up, if we don’t humble ourselves in His hands (1 Peter 5:6). Whatever God’s plan is in asking us to move forward, it is better than staying where we are. If God is asking us to let go, it’s because He needs us to make room for something else, something more. We want to hold on to our portion that we have now, but He is trying to give us the whole kingdom! It’s time to let go.
I’m so thankful to serve a God who helps me to walk away peacefully, gives me grace to have a new chapter each day, and has bigger and better plans for us all. Change is hard, and sometimes tastes bitter at the first bite, but with God it always ends up sweet in the end.