Like many of you, I am sure, my last few weeks have been surreal.
For those who do not know me, I have competed in speech and debate (just speech for me though) since middle school. I have poured my heart and soul into weekends traveling to high schools and colleges to speak my heart and be judged based on it.
I have also always lived in one place. I was born about two miles from the seat I occupy right now. I was brought to a church within my first month of being alive that I still attend today. I have lived–at most–ten minutes away from my parents.
Last weekend, I attended my last national speech competition, and now I am preparing to move out of my hometown next week.
They are part of the rhythm of life. However, I believe I am currently residing in the greatest transition I have yet to endure. The one that stings a little but promises great joy. In light of resting in a God who transcends my transitions, let’s dive into the book of James. It is a book that encapsulates the early Church’s transition period post-Messiah and pre-second coming. James tells us how the Spirit should lead us to live. He encourages us in the midst of change. He reminds us that how we handle the hand that is dealt exemplifies our hearts in relation to Jesus.
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Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will, he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
(James 1:16-18 ESV)
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A good gift brings Him glory.
Good gift. My mind immediately goes to my husband, my marriage. A good gift. A gift that I will argue over and over that I do not deserve–not now. Yet we see in the context of scripture that a good gift goes further than a list of our favorite things.
It transcends family. It exceeds friendship.
A good gift is anything that uses us to bring God glory.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1
Oh, Christians! Good gifts often sting. They look scary. After all, when the Israelites stood between the endless red sea and the red anger of the Egyptians, they thought their lives encapsulated everything except good gifts. They thought they were being punished. Little did they know that their worlds were about to be changed as the sea part at the hand of God and their oppressors were drowned by His name.
Our transitions are just that. They are often dusty or soggy roads between two realities that God is utilizing for the spread of His Gospel, and therefore, salvation to the world.
There is no shadow because He is perfectly above it.
James continues by explaining that no shadow appears in the midst of God’s good gift.
In my own period of transition, I feel the Lord all over it. He is in my apartment now and in my new home. He is over the team I am leaving behind and the individuals who will carry His name into the next speech round that I am not in.
Yet there are so many transitions in which seeing Him seems difficult. A move that pulls families apart. The loss of a loved one. Being let go from a job.
When the sun sits overhead at noon, shadows cease to exist because it rests perfectly above us. By 12:01, it has moved. A shadow appears. It has moved because it is a sun that exists in the realm of the universe. Not The Son. He doesn’t change though our lives are ever-transforming. While we move around, He stands over all our comings and goings.
He is beautifully transforming us in the process.
The best part of these transition moments is the transformation that comes from them when we allow Him. Everything that has brought us to this place we stand, every person who has stood before us, every spiritual parent or friendship or Gospel sharing moment, every test we have taken, every challenge from the Spirit, and every hardship and trial this season has brought us had been used by God to pull us deeper into His being.
But Christians. Let us not forget that we do have a degree of choice in the matter. We have the option of hiding away our faith. We have the ability to misrepresent Him with our tongues. If we are in transition moments, we are in vulnerable moments. We are meeting more people. We are being watched more closely. We have the opportunity to glorify Him greatly! We also have the opportunity to taint our own witness and lose the trust of those we stand before.
He is above us, holding out the fruits of the Spirit He wants to instill into us. He is giving us a beautiful opportunity to use the change surrounding us. Maybe your transition seems small. Maybe it is your baby walking for the first time. Maybe it is entering a different grade in school. Maybe it is a promotion.
Then again, maybe you are like me and–good or bad–you have a big transition coming up. You are graduating college and entering the workforce. You are preparing for marriage. You are helping a loved one through their last days on earth. No matter how our lives are evolving, He remains. He is good. His gifts are perfect.
So as I reflect on my time in speech and pack my life into boxes, as I enter a new place, make new friends, and begin a new chapter, Jesus will be residing above me. Though darkness surrounds, where He resides, there will be no shadow because He is the epitome of light.
Reflect on His promises, Beloved. Hold fast onto His never-changing Word. He is the only one that has never transitioned. He is constant. Let’s allow Him to be the constant good gift in the midst of our changing good gifts.