After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:1-9(Emphasis mine)
Moses was dead. His leadership of the Hebrew people was over, and Joshua was God’s chosen successor. The 40 years in the wilderness were full of mentoring for Joshua from Moses, preparing him for this eventuality. Few experience this level of preparation for transition, and God knew it. God’s words to Joshua reflect this daunting task in the four repeated messages to be courageous and not fearful. I’m certain Joshua knew it wouldn’t be easy, either.
Like the Israelites, our community at South Fellowship is in a time of transition. We’re in the process of searching for a new lead pastor. Many of us have experienced this sort of transition in the past. My personal experience includes pastoral transitions that were smooth and turned out very well, and some that didn’t. Given past experience at South, most recently when Ryan was selected, I have no doubt this will be another great transition, with a lead pastor being selected that will be our shepherd and take us on a Kingdom path to where we’re supposed to be.
I’m sure we all hope that our personal life transitions would be so smooth as this transition at South! There have been times in my professional career where job transitions haven’t gone well. There were times in life where transitions were bumpy and full of muddy potholes. But sometimes transition can really be full of potential. Given some time, I’ve looked back and realized that these rough patches were experiences that ultimately led to something good. Job transitions that were sour helped me see beforehand trouble spots and maneuver around them. Difficult life transitions led to a deeper faith and surrender. Both situations have given me opportunities to help others through similar experiences, perhaps even making their bumps in the road seem smoother.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that I’m not unique. ‘Stuff’ happens to us all, both good and bad, and this includes transitions. As you finish reading this, perhaps your life transitions come to mind. If that’s the case, perhaps making a list of those transitional times that come to mind, good and bad, is in order. Then, reread your list and contemplate the good that came of it. I’m certain this will brighten your memories!
By Rich Obrecht