October 22, 2013
I used to think life transitions were moments that connected the different stages of life. These life stages include the different social statuses that define many: student, single, married, divorced, employee, enlisted, parent, grandparent, retiree, etc. Or life stages could be identified as emotional seasons of difficulty, joy, maturation or loneliness. However we define them, transitions are like bridges that connect the peninsula to the mainland. The point is to get over them and on to “real life.” The older I have gotten, the more difficult it has become to identify a period of transition from the main road. At times, I wonder if we can even identify the main road.
For some, life seems to be a never-ending connection of transitions that we trust are heading somewhere. However, I’m not so convinced there is a point of arrival at having “made it” this side of the New Heavens and New Earth. After all, what does “making it” look like? Retirement? House paid off? White picket fence and the 2.5 healthy (and perfectly polite) kids? Which of these are the main road and which are the isolated transition points? My wife and my journey to Gordon-Conwell has illustrated this for us.
I first heard of Gordon-Conwell as a junior in college from a mentor of mine who was an alumnus. Curious as to what seminary was all about, I sent off an inquiry and received a packet in the mail describing the different programs. Sheer curiosity. That was 10 years ago. I got a job after college, served in ministry, got married, tried to find better jobs, switched careers, etc. In fact, my wife remembers me telling her that I was determined not to pursue a life in full-time ministry. Seminary wasn’t a consideration. And yet, through a long process of being led by the Lord, encouraged by friends, miraculous provisions in finances, scholarship opportunities and Semlink distance classes, we came to Gordon-Conwell. We left our home in the Pacific Northwest and arrived in the dead of winter in January 2013 just in time to be greeted by Hurricane Nemo. And to be honest, the transition hasn’t been all that easy. Moreover, it hasn’t been altogether clear where God is taking us in the future. However, we feel confident that God’s orchestration has led us to this moment.
We aren’t confident of how to distinguish between a life transition and a life stage. But we are confident that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. As pilgrims in this world, we are confident that life itself may continue to produce transitions. As people being conformed constantly to the image of Christ, we are determined to transition well until the day he takes us home to glory. But for the time being, we are here at Gordon-Conwell determined to lean on Jesus. He is the gate, but he is the way. He is not just the beginning point. He is not a life stage and he is not a transition. There is just no getting over him.
Josh and his wife, Tara, are from Washington State. Josh is pursuing an MAR and MATH while Tara works as a hairdresser in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Together, they are most captivated by the story in which God has placed them in this fascinatingly bizarre world that spins across this universe. In the midst of it all, they are stabilized by what Sally Lloyd-Jones describes as “God’s 'Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love' in Jesus" (Jesus Storybook Bible).
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