by Samuel Chiang
Transition is a word that invites a wider conversation. Transition is also a life process that needs attention. Transition happens often: a baby’s crawling to running then walking; a father or a mother’s season in running a kindergarten and or daycare; an adult duty-bound to look after aging parents.
Job transitions are deeper yet. Is it for financial matters? Is it for geographical changes? Is it for personal growth? Is it due to a firing? Or might the office politics drain the daily sense of joyful purpose? Or is the ethics of conduct encroaching upon personal values?
There are myriads of reasons for job transitions, but in the discipleship process we often consign such matters to prayer that will lead to peace, but we don’t know how peace is arrived at, except that it might ‘feel’ right. Is that all there is to it?
Discipleship, peace, and the transition of jobs is a unique nexus that happens often, but is not often well discussed. The role of the Holy Spirit, guidance of the word, and counsel of two or three trusted friends in the discernment process are important in the exterior market place or ministry transition. But even more, in the inner working of the interior God is doing crucial work. Our lack of attention and discerning as to His inner work often leads to a lack of peace with Him.
Some two decades ago, I was learning about how God speaks to our hearts all the time. He does not simply seek to do this; He actually does it. It is not audible, but the Holy Spirit is continually inviting us to listen and discern. I also learned that God is always working at our own interior infrastructure, the formation of our soul, and the renewal of our mind. This was not an intuitive process for me. It was a continual periodic learning that was and still is ongoing.
I recalled vividly, sometime in the last decade, that God had indicated to me that my ministry/job assignment was completed and I was to move on into the next assignment. I recalled saying to God ‘what’ and mentally stating that I am not certain how to do this.
Then, I ignored Him for about a year.
Don’t get me wrong, I was in scripture daily, practicing walking with God, but I ignored His indication to me that my assignment was completed. This lasted for about a year until finally I got to the point where there was restlessness within me and I realized that I needed to discern what God had in mind.
In fact, I was so demanding of God that I ‘told’ Him to meet me in the Book of Isaiah, my favorite book in the Bible.
Then, as I was seriously examining scripture, He met me with a ‘shout’ from Isaiah 30:15: “Repent and rest, for this will be your salvation, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” It was not audible, but my innards were shaken to the core!
I thought I read the passage wrong. I did theological gymnastics thinking it must be for Israel only. On the third time going through the passage, I kept my eyes out of focus because I just did not wish to deal with that portion of scripture, and when I passed those words which shouted at me, I refocused my eyes, and saw the next sentence: “But you were not willing.”
I literally shut the word of God up, walked away from the Bible, and paced the room. Then, I tried to check on a Bible program as to translation versions on that verse, and every translation I checked that morning had the phrase, “But you are/were not willing.” I was in turmoil, had no peace with God, and paced the room some more.
There was no mistaken that God was in the scripture. During that transition, I started to watch God, similar to how the poet expressed in Psalm 123:1—2: “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.”
The inner peace returned as I yielded to Him, even as God continued the transition and at the same time recreated and remolded my inner infrastructure.
In the disciple-making process relating to peace, especially in the midst of a job transition, our focus is often external. We ignore the internal and working with God even though He is delighted to work on our interior landscape.
There are no simple formulae to turn our focus to God’s caring way of working with our interior landscape. There are no simple ways of working with the constant Gardener who is remodeling our interior.
Rather than fighting it, disregarding it, or leaking all over it by talking about how to receive external comfort, is it time to watch the hand of the Master? Are you discerning through the word, listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading, touching base with two or three trusted ones who are praying together with you, and being at peace watching Him?
Samuel Chiang is president and CEO of The Seed Company. Born in Taiwan, he grew up and worked in Canada and formerly served as COO of TWR. He has authored book chapters in diverse genres including innovation, orality, and persecution.