The Biggest Transition of All


As a cautious young man, I am rarely a fan of big changes. I often react negatively or fearfully to anything that challenges the perceived safety given to me by the norm. I appreciate consistency and stability. I like things to stay the way they are, and even changes to my sports teams require a period of mourning before I eventually come to terms with the new reality.

But worse still than big changes is a long drawn out period of big change, also known as a transitional period. This might be where a big change is coming down the train tracks, and you can see the train approaching in the distance, but to your chagrin it is still a long, long way off. As bad as confronting the change is, the horror is compounded by the time it takes to wait for the change to occur, leaving you in a nebulous “in between” stage for an extended period of time. In such situations all you can really do is your best to prepare for the future with all anticipation, while at the same time trying your best to live in the present with the current responsibilities entrusted you.

College and High School students run into this with the dreaded case of “senioritis": a malady that produces a lethargic laziness towards current tasks in light of the approaching graduation. I am going through a similar (or perhaps not so similar) transitional period known as engagement. Marriage is coming, I feel as prepared for it as I will ever be. I am ready to make the plunge and get married. But I am still not yet married.

It is a strange time to be alive.

The more I think about it the more I realize that the Christian life is kind of like an engagement. A really long, massively drawn out engagement. As Christians we are already saved by Jesus’s death and resurrection. We already are adopted into the family of almighty God. We await a heavenly inheritance where we will be face to face with our Savior in glory. Also we await newness, perfection where we will no longer fall prey to sin or feel the brokenness of the world. One day we will finally be like Christ, and everything wrong will finally be made right. That sounds like a big change, and one I would happily live with at that!

Yet here we are. Not only is the world we live in a hopeless mess as sin is gloried in and God is mocked, but we Christians also remain a mess. Though saved, clothed in eternal righteousness—we still struggle, falter, and limp along with all human weakness. Our nagging flesh is an ever present reminder that though we have great hopes and promises, we all have a long way to go. Yes we are given the Holy Spirit as an aid, and yes we have everything we need for life in godliness, but what Christ Jesus offers those who are in Him is not "cashed in" immediately nor is it even possessed in fullness in this this passing moment we call life. 

The truth is: the vast majority of what Christ offers is given in the life to come.

So how are we to live through this period of transition of "already but not yet"? Do we preoccupy ourselves with the future at the expense of the present? Or do we forget the eternal hopes and grit our teeth as we face today? I believe the Scriptural response shows that a fixation on eternity does not distract us from living in the present—but rather it is the only way to victoriously face this in between stage known as life. Consider these few passages:

  •  “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
  • "(The grace of God) teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ..." (Titus 2:12-13)
  • "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Notice a common theme? Paul does not point to immediate pleasures or some instantaneous reward as motivation to press on with this whole Christian thing. He is convinced that, yes "outwardly we are wasting away." Jesus promised that we would have troubles come our way and Paul definitely knew his share of troubles. What Paul does do is he points to something beyond the immediate. He looks to what is unseen, to what is permanent. As Alistair Begg says in this message, "Paul combats what assails him, with the reality of what awaits him." This is the eternal hope, and I believe that without it, the Christian life is doomed to fail.

So as we face this drawn out and at times grueling transition period called life, may we remember Paul and likewise contest everything we face in this life with the reminder of that glorious hope. Yes, we are not there yet. Yes, we will fall down, and times will get tough. But there will come a day when "the grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back," and in an instant it all will all be more than worth it.

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