Seasons of Transition is a 5 Minute Worship Discussion Read written by guest writer, Justin Kintzel. Seasons of Transition is part of our Worship Through The Seasons Discussion Series. Click the links below to be forwarded to past posts in the series.
You know how leaving an item outside through the winter will age it? A while back, I was looking everywhere for my favorite coffee mug. It was black and had this flip-awesome Darth Vader drawing on it. Don’t let jealousy overtake you as you read. It was just one of those small things in my life that I expected to see every day with that magic liquid that makes the tired go away. After the winter had passed, I found it half buried in the grass outside the house. I have no clue how it got there, but it had obviously gone through a tough winter. Vader’s face had mostly faded. The rim had a significant chip in it, and the handle was completely gone. Now, while a favorite coffee mug is not a big loss at all, I often feel I’ve become a relic of the seasons that I’ve weathered. The harder the season, the more weathering takes place. Some seasons, I’ve faired reasonably well. Others, not so much. Some wounds, the deepest ones, usually take the longest time to heal. My wife, Ashley, and I have been through some crazy seasons in the last few years. Some of them really great and life-giving, and others, the exact opposite.
Seasons of Transition
The past two years, my family has experienced more than we could handle. Yes! That can happen. God will not tempt you beyond what you can bear, but hear me; things WILL happen in this life that are more than we can tolerate in our own strength. I had just entered my fourth year as the Worship Pastor for a large Christian university. Three times a week, I had the privilege of leading a student body of over 10,000 young adults who poured out praise to Jesus in a way I had never seen before or since. I deeply loved the students, and they loved me and my family. As if the magnitude of my position wasn’t a sweet enough gift, God had begun to open doors that I never imagined possible for a guy like me. Professionally, I had just opened up for Third Day at DC Fest on the heels of a Dove Award nomination from a project that featured one of my songs. Personally, Ashley and I were finally seeing the years of saving and planning come to fruition as we closed on our first house just in time to find out we were expecting our third baby. I wasn’t afraid, then, when I found out my boss would be departing the university for an amazing job. Life seemed to be in an upward trajectory. I felt I was a small, but significant part of building a future generation of Christ-followers.
A new boss was quickly chosen and in just three months time, my season in a place in I loved serving came to an abrupt end. The quick sale of the newly purchased house followed with a $20,000 hit in closing costs. I had to stomach the pain of watching my pregnant bride repack her newly unpacked house in her hometown of twenty years so we could move in with my parents out west. All of the growing prospects in the Christian recording industry were swiftly dismantled. My undeserved humiliation was on display for thousands to speculate upon due to my swift, unexplained exit. My social media and email inbox was flooded with hundreds of questions from students and staff for days, to which I never knew how to reply. With that, I entered the longest, darkest depression of my life. I felt like a failure. Like I wasn’t good enough. Like I had, in an instant, become nothing, and no-one. I wanted to hide. Life can absolutely kick you in the soul, but the pain is so much harder to rationalize when it’s delivered at the hands of a fellow believer. Ultimately, time has still not given me a satisfactory answer to the question: “Why?” There are days when all I want is to go back to the way things were. A mentor sent me Psalm 42:4-6. I was captivated by the Psalmist’s words saying, “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember You…”
Our lives are made up of seasons. The really good. The very bad. And many in-between. Truthfully, nothing lasts in this life. Especially the good things, it would seem. But, that is how it’s supposed to be here. All that will last on this earth is what we’ve decided about God’s son, Jesus Christ, and what we have sacrificed for His glory based on the gospel entrusted to us. I feel like we were in an incredibly fruitful season before “the crash” (as we like to call it). Still, God is good even when life isn’t. When we surrender our pain to God, He wastes nothing. The beauty of our suffering is that we have been able to “comfort others the way God comforted us” (2 Corinthians 1:4). The wounded. The forgotten. The abandoned. The displaced. For the opportunity to love those people, I am grateful. My pastor told me, “God cannot fully use somebody for His glory without critically wounding him first.” We have to be broken and rebuilt. We have to be put through fire before we can be properly used, and because of that, I’m thankful that I was chosen for breaking.
Building God’s kingdom is so much more fruitful than building one for myself. If His people believe that, we must let Him have full control over our reputations, our dreams, our careers, our families…EVERYTHING. Understanding the “why” of our pain is secondary to obedience. What does God have for me in this life? I have no idea, but I’m learning every day to trust Him more. Whether I’m leading worship for a room of 10,000 or 100, His glory is all that matters. Even in the midst of serious pain and sadness, I’m looking forward to the seasons ahead with hope. My buddy Noah posted this quote on Facebook right as I was finishing writing this and it just rang so well. It’s a quote from a devotional from hereadstruth.com, “May the Lord engage our hearts during our difficult seasons. And may He free us from the burden of feeling like we need to summit great mountains in one burst of energy. Instead, may He train our hearts to walk with devotion to what’s next, and then to what follows after that. The path can be hard, but it is good. When we follow Christ, we’re walking on the road that leads us home.”
Do not give up in your season. We are almost home.
Dove Award nominated song-writer and artist, Justin Kintzel, is the Worship Pastor at the North Campus of Applewood Baptist Church. He has released an EP, a full album, and a live album. He and his wife, Ashley, are the parents of four kids: three little girls and a baby boy. Justin's passions include worship leading, song-writing, graphic design, video production, and just being a dad!
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