Holding Onto Life’s Lessons During Life’s Transitions
Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
The low temperatures this week are in the 60’s. This morning I ate breakfast with a blanket wrapped around me because I was actually cold. In just over a week, classes start back up at school.
Can fall be on its way already? Is summer really almost done? Can a new semester be just days away? The leaves haven’t started changing colors and pumpkin spice hasn’t worked its way back into every coffee shop quite yet, but the beginning of this transition between seasons is already becoming more and more apparent.
I’m excited about the transition back to school life. I love my classes, I love my job, I love being closer to my family and friends. But I’m not completely ready to let go of summer. Not because summer by itself is so amazing, but because this summer was so amazing.
This summer, I traveled to five different countries for the first time—Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. This summer, I met wonderful people who, even though they didn’t always speak my language, opened up their homes and churches and welcomed me in. This summer, I learned lessons I could not have anticipated and grew in ways I could not have imagined.
This summer, God gave me so many sweet and beautiful gifts. Some of these gifts were new and exciting, and some of these gifts were hard and painful. But all of the gifts I received from my Father’s hand this summer were good.
I never liked change. Transitions were always difficult when I was growing up, and they still are today. But one of the most difficult aspects of change now (as opposed to when I was twelve), is that now I’m more aware of how quickly I forget what God has taught me through each season.
As I step out of summer and into my second year of grad school, I’m keenly aware that all the lessons of this summer, all those good things that God gave to me, those things could quickly become irrelevant to my daily life. Things that meant so much to me just a few weeks ago, people and places that had such a profound impact on my understanding of who God is and the plans He has for me, those things will become unremembered memories. Just as some of my souvenirs from this summer will likely disappear into all my stuff as I move back to the campus, so will these lessons likely be shoved aside to make place for a busy schedule.
But I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to lose sight of all that God did this summer. How can I—or anyone, for that matter—hold onto such lessons in the midst of such transitions? I wish I had a simple answer. But I do know this: God did not waste this summer. He didn’t. The opportunities I had, the places I went, the people I met, the lessons I learned, the mistakes I made, the struggles with sin, the time in His Word—none of these things were wasted. And if none of these things were wasted, then they must be worth holding onto.
As I consider the last several months, Paul’s words in Philippians are a huge comfort.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
So much happened this summer, and I haven’t even completely processed it all yet. But as this season quickly flows into the next, I know that the same God who gave me the good gift of this summer still has good purposes in His mind for me. He didn’t teach me these lessons just to have them become irrelevant. He didn’t begin this good work in me just to leave it incomplete.
In fact, this summer was simply the continuation of a work that was already ongoing. It’s a work that began years ago when, as a very young child, I first understood my desperate need of a Savior. It’s a work that will continue throughout the remainder of my life and will be completed when at last I see my Savior.
In the meantime, I can be thankful for the changes, the transitions. I can be thankful because these things cause me to reflect on what God has been doing during the past season, and they help me be more intentional about looking ahead to what He has in store.
Ultimately, holding onto the lessons God has taught me looks more like holding onto God and my growing relationship with Him than anything else.