Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the sea became calm. The men were terrified of the Lord. They offered sacrifices and made vows to the Lord.
This time of year, I'm always thinking about transition and what's next. For nature, spring brings new life, and for the Church, so does Easter. But for me, I suppose it's the school calendar that drove my early life and continues to guide it as I work with kids and follow that calendar. I graduated seminary in the spring and was seeking my first call as pastor, and that's when I transitioned to my last call and even to this call. I was on my honeymoon in May three years ago when I interviewed by Skype for JCPC. So the end of spring has marked for me and our family many major milestones in our journey.
All transition and change is loss in some way. For there to be anything new, typically something old must end or die or change. This tends to cause stress and anxiety. Among the biggest changes we experience are marriage, birth, death, moving, job changes, and leaving home for work or college. And this time of year can mean lots of those, especially leaving home after graduation. The anticipation of this change is anxiety-producing for our youth and parents too. Much of that anxiety is around the worry of choice.
I often tell our young people (and their parents) that the most important part of their college decision is prayer. I encourage them to check out churches and campus ministries as much as academics and extracurriculars. And while I firmly believe God can and does call them to specific places and people and experiences, there's something else I'm even more sure of... God will be there wherever they go and make use of them in that place. We cannot mess up God's plans, just follow them creatively. God used Jonah in his circuitous path to Nineveh to witness to the crew of his getaway boat. God did not give up because Jonah fled. God stuck with Jonah. God sticks with us.
In the words of my friend I spoke to this week, "God doesn't waste anything." Wherever we go, as college students, for work, on our own, with family, God sticks with us. God never wastes anything, no matter our path. I encourage you this week to pray about your big transitions you're in the midst of or approaching, and pray for our graduates. God is listening. God is with us. God is leading, coaching, and using us in every time and place.