I walked around the room, skimming the narratives (stories) of my fifth graders. Do you know how hard it is to teach writing to ten year olds? As I picked up each paper to look it over, each student looked up at me nervously, wondering what I thought. I gave feedback and moved to the next student.
I moved from student to student, read the papers, gave feedback and moved on. Once I got about half way around the class, I realized I kept saying the same thing over and over to each student I met with. All of my kid’s writing was missing the same thing. They had the characters, the setting, the introduction and conclusion, but they were missing one of the most important parts of a narrative. This is how I know when it’s time to stop the class and teach a mini lesson to all of my students.
Today’s lesson: transition words!
You may not need a lesson in transition words, but you may need a transition in your life. Right about now everyone is or has planned their 2019. We look to a new year and see an opportunity for change. We want to live better than the year before, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. But, somehow new plans, new goals and new dreams will become old and forgotten by February 1st.
Don’t get me wrong. The goals are great! The ambitions are needed and the change worth striving for. But I know how resolutions go. I’ve read the statistics that show many people break their resolutions before the Valentine’s candy is stocked on the shelves at the local grocery store.
So, what’s the answer? How do we have a better year than last year? How do we make sure we forgive more, spend time with family often, read the Bible daily, stop worrying so much, and better our relationships with others?
I can tell you the answer. Not because I have it all figured out, but because I have tried to make grandeur changes on my own and was unsuccessful. I have never been big on new year resolutions, but I’ve made them in the past and I never stuck with any of them.
Some resolutions are simple and they may not require a divine intervention. If you want to eat better, it will be hard, but it’s doable. If you want to start working out, it will require discipline, but you can work on that. But, if you want to change a part of you that is in your nature such as worry, depression, stress, humility, pride, knowing God on a deeper level, (insert all the other wonderful and life changing goals here) … it will take more than a verbal declaration for a new year. It will take God.
Let me make myself clear: I am sure you can accomplish these things, and the world needs more of the impossible and what only God can do because I believe there are people in our lives who need the hope of the impossible living in someone they know. But I am also sure … beyond convinced … that you nor I can do these things without the Lord.
Not everyone is a writer, but every one of us is being written about. In Psalm 139:16, God says He has written His plans and the days He has ordained for us in His book. Stop and think about that for a minute. God is the author of your life story. Doesn’t that make you wonder how it ends? Forget the ending, how does my 2019 go? Does it become a better year than last year?
I can’t tell you the answer to those questions, but I can tell you what you need in order to bring about true change for the new year: a transition word. And God wants to write it in to your story.
Last week, I was studying my Bible and as I was reading the narratives about the different stories of each person, it was the transition word however that caught my attention. It’s one word, but stories can’t be written without transitions.
The word however denotes a contrast in what was in comparison to what will be. It shows a contradiction in the past compared to the future. And if I’m being honest, I want that kind of transition for my 2019. I want the kind of however only God can insert into my story.
But transitions are only inserted into a story when change happens. God talks about the kind of change that only He can provide in Jeremiah 13:23. He asks a rhetorical question when He says, “Can an Ethiopian change his skin color or a leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
God’s message here is greater than just a change … it’s an impossible change that can only happen with Him. We cannot change from evil to good, from pride to humility, or to deepen our relationship with Him, or better our relationships with others without His help. Just like we cannot change our skin color or the height of our stature. The impossible is only possible with God (Matt 19:26).
If you read the Bible, you will see many people who didn’t waist time with resolutions. They allowed God to transform them which brought the transition; they made a change. Change is hard and as I said before the change we plan for is rarely accomplished. Can I tell you why? Because people try to change within their own strength. There are just some things only God can do because it is not natural for the flesh of man to make the kind of change that makes the world stand up and take notice (Gal 5:17).
As we leave each other today, I don’t want you to be discouraged if you made goals and resolutions that seem impossible. If you wonder how your story will go, remember the ones in the Bible whose stories have already been written about. These are the stories of God’s transforming power and because of that God took His pen and wrote the transition word between what they were without Him to what they became with Him.
Rahab was a harlot, however, she believed God and He made her a grandmother in the lineage of Jesus.
Paul was a murderer, however, God saved him and he became an apostle to the Gentiles.
Hannah couldn’t have children, however, she prayed to God and dedicated her child to Him and he became the first prophet of Israel.
Jacob was a liar, however, he wrestled with God and asked to be different. God changed his character because Jacob would not let Him go.
All of these things are impossible: to change your path like Rahab. To change your beliefs like Paul. To entrust God with your child if you’re barren like Hannah. To change your nature of deceit, if the truth is difficult to speak, like Jacob. But when God is involved, He brings the transformation and inserts the transition into our story.
My challenge for you today is that you evaluate your goals for 2019. Are they big? Are they impossible? Are they going to require diligence and constant focus? Good! Keep them. But don’t forget the best ones require the help and strength of the Lord, and He is there, waiting to insert the transition word into your 2019 story because He wants to bring the transformation to your life that doesn’t just change you … it changes the world!
Hey ladies! If you are in the Central Valley area in California, we are hosting the I Am Known women’s event on February 23rd. This is a free event and registration opens today. Click here to register!