Moving Away, Moving On, Moving Forward
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines moving as “changing [a] place or position as relating to the activity or process of moving to a different place to live or work.”
Have you ever had to move in one way or another? Most of us will answer an astounding “YES” to that question. Maybe you have moved to a new house, a new job, a new spiritual journey, or a new stage of life.Just recently, I encountered moving home to the U.S. after living in Nigeria. I am in the process of adjusting. Many days I find myself pondering or exploring how to pick up the pieces left behind; how to console myself when my friends have moved on in my absence; how to not miss the past; and how to basically get back into the swing of Western culture.
It is tough readjusting. While I feel I “deserve” an adjustment phase, it probably doesn’t help that I am holding on to the past as tightly as children hold on to their security blankets. I am still thinking of my Lagos church, my Lagos Bible study, my Lagos apartment, my newly found Lagos friends, The Punch (the best Nigerian newspaper), and even the little Lagos fabric store at the mall. I miss my Lagos driver and my Lagos housekeeper. And, I don’t miss them so much for their service as I do for their camaraderie. And, all this deep stirring in my heart is creating an emotional response that I am not too proud of.
Maybe you are experiencing a loss of some kind: a job loss, a painful divorce, or a death in the family. I have been sitting on my couch, way more than I should be lately, cradling a pity-party in my heart and mourning my loss. So, I decided to research how two Bible characters dealt with moving on – one who did so the wrong way and one who did it the right way. And, incidentally, both are named SAUL!
In the Old Testament, King Saul was chosen by the prophet Samuel to be Israel’s first king. King Saul started out as a righteous man, but he allowed his jealousy to get the best of him. When David returned from killing Goliath, 1 Samuel 18:7-9 states, “And the women responded as they laughed and frolicked, saying, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very angry, for the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?’ And Saul [jealously] eyed David from that day forward.” Saul’s problem was he foresaw a “JOB LOSS” and he couldn’t accept that he would have to move on. Read 1 Samuel 18-31.
The process King Saul embraced in order NOT TO HAVE TO MOVE ON involved:
- He harbored ill-feelings and jealousy;
- He tried to kill [David];
- He encountered evil spirits;
- He became angry;
- He actively sought evil;
- He lived an inconsistent life towards God;
- He sought a medium instead of God;
- He committed suicide.
Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier for King Saul to deal with his ill-feelings and jealousy? He could then have moved on and accepted God’s will and proceeded to the next phase of his life gracefully and with God by his side?
Now, let’s look at someone who had to move on – someone who did it the right way.
In the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus (who later became known as Paul), a die-hard Jew, moved from being a relentless persecutor of believers to a saved follower of Jesus Christ. Saul ravaged the church with threats and actually murdered Christ’s disciples along the way. But one day, on the way to Damascus, a light shone from heaven and Saul came face to face with Jesus’ voice. He became a new man in Christ. After his conversion, Paul was without sight, food, and drink for three days. But as only the Lord can do, He brought Ananias into his life to encourage him in the Lord. He was baptized, ate, and then was strengthened. Paul stayed with Jesus’ disciples being trained in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. After his training (and adjustment period), Paul, moved into proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues and beyond. Read Acts 9.
The process Paul used to get him to the place of MOVING ON involved:
- He embraced his change;
- He allowed for time of solitude;
- He accepted encouragement;
- He strengthened himself by spending time in counseling and training;
- He actively involved himself in God’s work.
Now, which approach seems best to you – King Saul’s or Saul of Tarsus’ approach?
We all go through transitions in life. Don’t be afraid of the changes in your life. We get hung up on our changes because we are emotional beings. Sometimes we don’t like change, while other times, we do. For you, your transition may involve laughing, smiling, tears, and/or sorrow. We will always have events and circumstances that will confront us. Moving away, moving on, or moving forward brings their own unique challenges, hardships, and/or excitement. Let’s try to use the experiences we face today as a springboard to focus on what is yet to come in God’s eyes. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I think that what God is telling me from this study personally is, “Patti, don’t be afraid of the changes in your life. I sent you to Nigeria; and, I just sent you back. I know what I am doing. Follow your own advice, and DON’T REMOVE ME FROM YOUR MOVES.”
And likewise, “Don’t remove God from your moves.” He knows exactly what He is doing.
Moving Away Verse:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Moving On Verse:
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV
Moving Forward Verse:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal (ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6)
God, It's Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study (ISBN 978-1-4627-3821-2)