It seems transition is a word on everyone's tongue. There are major transitions happening at an organizational level at my work. I'm transitioning from the steadiness of school to the new rhythm of a job. I have new housemates, a new place to live, a new identity. I can no longer claim the identity of student. What am I now? An adult? I guess that's my new title. But there has to be something more than that.
With a tip from my mom, I bought a personal-size watermelon at Fred Meyer on Sunday night. I didn't cut into it until Monday evening when I was packing my lunch for the following day. I cut easily into the deep pink flesh of the melon and was pleased to see firmness, no mush. I carved away the green rind and popped a pink square into my mouth. The pleasure of the flavor and cool, crisp texture was pure joy. I continued to cut squares and throw them into a Tupperware. My housemate, Katie, and her boyfriend were making tacos in the kitchen alongside me. When I came to the second half of the melon, I had an overwhelming need to share this delicious treat with them. What was there of my joy if it couldn't be shared? The next morning, I opened the compost bin to throw in my banana peel and saw two watermelon rinds just the size of the ones I had shared. That evening, Katie announced that she had bought two of those same watermelons. "It was so good!" She declared. I smiled. By sharing my joy, my joy had doubled.
I'll admit I was dreading Tuesday afternoon. It was a foolish thing to dread. I had asked Brad Beal, my faithful helper, to move furniture from my friend Lydia's house to my house. I dislike moving furniture. It wears me out. On the way out of the neighborhood, we passed a lemonade stand manned by a gaggle of girls. I wanted to trade places with them. When Brad and I arrived at Lydia's, we strategized at how best to move the loads of furniture from one house to the other. Lydia's fiance, Tyler, and Brad made quick work of loading the mattresses, dresser, and bookshelf into Brad's van. Before I knew what was happening, Tyler insisted that I stay at the house and help Lydia cook while he and Brad delivered the loads of furniture to my house. I did not protest. Lydia and I had a delightful time making a lentil and rice casserole and a peach cobbler before Brad and Tyler returned.
When they did come back, Tyler handed me a lime green otter pop. "We stopped at the lemonade stand, and they had otter pops, too," Brad said. I eagerly cut off the top and sucked up the icy slush--sour apple. Yum! While I was sucking away, Tyler told me where they had put all the furniture and that they had even set up my bed on its frame. Suddenly, realization hit me like the warm water of a shower in the early morning. Grace. Wonderful, sweet grace. In my childish dread of moving, God had still decided to bless me with two men who moved everything back and forth with consummate efficiency. And here I was sucking on an otter pop, enjoying a forthright conversation with a person who will soon experience one of life's greatest transitions: marriage. More grace. In the midst of many transitions, here was an outpouring of grace...to me. To complaining, wayward, fearful, self-centered me.
Two songs have meant a lot to me in the past week. The first is a hymn we sang at church on Sunday entitled When All Thy Mercies. Here are just several of the verses:
Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart could know
From whom those comforts flowed.
When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou,
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows bowed,
Revived my soul with grace.
Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I'll pursue
And after death, in distant worlds
The glorious theme renew.
I'm sure the older readers of this blog can attest to the loving care of the Lord through every period of life. Don't hesitate to do so! Gratitude is key to life with God. I found this hymn a beautiful testimony to the steadfastness of God in the sea of change that is life on earth. And yet, despite any change I experience, each stanza of this hymn reaffirms a simple truth that I needed to hear: God bestows grace and comfort and goodness upon us beyond our knowledge, our sins, our sorrows, and our transition-filled lives. Praise the Lord!
The other song is one that I just happened to catch on the radio yesterday. It's a new song from Switchfoot called Restless. The tune of the song is sweeping, and the lyrics are a poem. I love good poems. You really have to listen to it, though, to capture it. Look on YouTube for "Switchfoot Restless" and find the Radio Edit version. You can find the lyrics on www.air1.com under the music tab. The lyrics are worth reading. Listen and read if you have time. I hope you are edified by both these songs.
We have an overwhelming, driving desire for God. This desire is a gift from God; it keeps us longing, restless for God. But we have something even more valuable than this. We have a God who responds to our longing in every season of our life.
I want to be defined in this new stage by this grace of God that takes me by surprise, that keeps me restless and content at the same time, and somehow, mysteriously, doubles my joy. It's not a defined title, per se, but I think it's even better. It travels through every season of my life.