For me, it always starts with an unsettledness, you know what I mean? It comes without language or clarity, just a feeling that there is something off within me. It feels like you can’t sit still, an itchiness that can’t be scratched. Have you ever experienced something like that?
It’s like the movie, Mary Poppins when the wind starts blowing and everything looks different, there’s something coming, but you can’t put your finger on it.
In my life when I’ve felt that “unsettledness”, it has always been because there’s something “more” coming. There’s something that I’ve been purposed to do that I need to be challenged to do…to step onto the water and just walk. First it was the call into full-time ministry later than most (which is just proof that God will use us regardless of our self-imposed limitations), then it was to lead at the next level and now it is to use what God has taught me over the past 15 years to do even more… it’s frightening, exhilarating and risking.
Here’s the big question… how do we discern if the unsettledness or itchiness we’re feeling is actually something we’re supposed to pay attention to or it’s just the tacos you ate last night? Here are three steps that have helped me to discern and then move!
Persistency: The unsettedless is relentless. When that feeling just won’t go away, it probably means that you need to pay attention to it and start digging into discovering what it might mean. When I was being called into a new level of leadership years ago, I didn’t know that was the next step for my life, but I did know that I needed to explore what the unsettledness was. I began to listen through different ears and at least be willing to discover what it might be. Revelation can come through a variety of channels, mine came through a Catalyst podcast interview with John Ortberg. When asked about his transition from Willow Creek Community Church to Menlo Presbyterian Church, he said, “I knew I had spiritual muscles that I wasn’t able to flex there…”. That one statement gave me words to the unsettled feeling that had been up to that point elusive. If the unsettled feeling you’re experiencing won’t relent, chase it down and listen.
Prayer, Scripture and Others: It probably goes without saying that prayer, reading scripture and listening to wise counsel goes without saying, but sometimes even as mature followers of Christ we forget this step. We talk, we fret and we work, work, work, but we forget to listen to the One that knew us before we were knit together in our mother’s womb (Ps 139:13). Commit to spending significant time every day in the Word, keep at it time over time until you see it and hear it. Remember, God’s Word is alive and living! I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but remember this: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between should and spirit between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4;12). This isn’t just lip-service, this is true! Trust it, test it and allow the Spirit to reveal what He’s been trying to tell you. Pray, ask trusted mentors and friends to pray with you, ask them what they see, what they’re hearing.
Pursue and trust: If you’ve listened, prayed, read and still feel the unsettledness of “somthing new”, then chase it down! During seasons of ensuing transition, there have always been one or more verses that God has used to confirm that the unsettled feeling is true and not just a pipe-dream or result of too much sugar:). Here are some verses that have spoken truth and enabled me to trust the wind of transition over the coarse of my ministry career~
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (MSG) has been a verse that God continues to use in my life as confirmation about his plan and purpose for my life; “This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time! Isaiah 43:18-19)
Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT: “But forget all that! It is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”
Trust what the Spirit is speaking into you, pursue it, discern what it means and chase it down. Put yourself into conversations that will mentor, teach and sharpen you, read whatever you can and learn. And then wait… sometimes the transition will be immediate, but many times the unsettled season of refining is a season of preparation for readiness. There are things that the Lord is shifting and preparing. Our job is to be ready to answer “yes” to whatever the question is, when the timing is right. The hardest part of transitions (at least for someone like me), is not to hurry ahead of the Lord.
At the end of the day, we have all been given gifts to build the Kingdom of God. We were created for purpose and have a significant part in the on-going creation. As we are obedient in each season, we are given the opportunity to do more. We will all face change and transition, which bring new seasons of possibility and influence~ lean into them and discover all that God has planned for you to do! Because here’s the truth… what you do now as you pursue each transition faithfully, will impact 1000 generations with lavish, unfailing love! Think bigger, think more!