This week my wife and I packed our belongings and made the biggest move of our lives. After living in the Orlando area for 24 years we pulled up our roots and relocated to Georgia. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done because I'm a sentimental guy who gets very attached to people and places. Yet I found extra grace for this transition because I knew I was following the Holy Spirit's leading.
Counselors say relocation is one of the most stressful things in life—ranking right up there with the death of a loved one. It weighs us down because it's a huge combination of stressors—selling a house, buying or renting a new house, hiring movers, leaving friends and stepping into the dark unknown. Not fun stuff, in my opinion.
Yet many people who are reading this are about to step into a transition—or are already in the middle of one. I have taken much comfort from the fact that the Bible is full of people who were called by God to move. Abraham, the father of our faith, began his spiritual odyssey when the Lord said: "Go from your country, your family, and your father's house, to the land that I will show you" (Gen. 12:1).
Think about it. When God wanted to do something really important in the Earth, like start a new nation that would serve Him, it began with a relocation. Spiritual blessings often are not realized until someone moves! Moses had to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. David had to move to Jerusalem. And Jesus' last words to His disciples were about moving to foreign countries.
If you are in a season of transition, you will want to consider these guidelines:
1. Have courage. When Joshua was preparing to relocate the people of Israel to Canaan, God said three times: "Be strong and courageous" (Josh. 1:6,7,9). Moving requires a leap of faith, and doubters always get cold feet. Has God given you a big promise about the land you are about to possess? Don't be surprised if the devil tries to make you fearful. Take a deep breath, resist fear and forge ahead.
2. Take one step at a time. Moving isn't just one decision, it's a tangled mess of many decisions that can overwhelm you. You don't have to handle everything at once. The Bible says you are not on your own; you don't have to figure out your relocation plan by yourself. You have a Shepherd, and He is good. He leads you "beside quiet waters" and He guides you "in paths of righteousness" (Ps. 23:2-3). Trust your Shepherd's leading. He will make your transition peaceful; and He promises that "the steps of a good man are made firm by the Lord" (Ps. 37:23).
3. Let go of the old. When God wanted to bless Naomi, He told her to leave the forsaken land of Moab and move to Bethlehem. Her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth pledged to go with her, but her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, stayed behind. Orpah couldn't tear herself away from her culture and her lifestyle, even though God was visiting His people in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:14-16).
Sometimes when God calls us to a new place in the Spirit, we discover that we are hindered by many soulish distractions. You must love Jesus more than you love your comfort zone. It's good to have roots in a place, but you must never let those roots become stronger than your willingness to follow God anywhere.
4. Cry if you need to. A few days ago, after we finished loading every piece of furniture on our moving van, I walked through my house in Florida one last time and locked the front door. Then I sobbed in my car as I remembered playing with my young daughters in the back yard, hanging Christmas decorations on the shrubs and burying our family dog in the back yard. It's totally normal to feel sadness when we move. The best way to process your feelings is to let the tears flow.
5. Be open to God's detours. One important lesson I learned in my transition is that we must never lock ourselves into "our" plan. You may sense the Lord leading you to leave where you are, but when you begin moving to your new destination God may redirect you. The apostle Paul was heading to Rome to preach the gospel, but a shipwreck took him to the island of Malta—and thus he led a successful but unscheduled revival. Don't be so headstrong about your destination that God can't gently nudge you 15 degrees to the right, or take you on an unexpected detour.
6. Expect miracles along the way. When I knew for sure God was calling my wife and I to Georgia, we asked our friends to begin praying with us. I shared with them seven specific prayer requests, and the first item on the list was: "Quick sale of our house." Guess what? Our house sold in less than 24 hours—to the first people who walked in the door! Since then, all but the last request on my list has been answered.
Moving can seem like a chore, but if you invite God into the process it becomes a thrilling adventure. When the Holy Spirit says go, He goes with you. When He calls you to leave the old and step into the new, He pushes you to a new spiritual level.
J. Lee Gradyis the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, 10 Lies Men Believe, Fearless Daughters of the Bible and The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org.
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