Personal Transition, Three Aprils Compared.

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We sometimes quip that change is life’s only constant.

It occurred to me early Good Friday morning that change in my life can be readily seen by comparing my three most recent Holy Week observances. I remembered with a smile the words of counselor and dear friend, Carl Zwart,
“Recognize it. Own it.
If you can’t change it, accept it and move forward.”
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This weekend two years ago I poured limitless energy into a Thursday night Tennebrae service, leading a congregation in western Nebraska to consider the events of Holy Week. The evening was designed such that people would leave the building silently in near darkness, having considered Christ’s suffering and what God “spent” for our salvation.  I smiled inwardly as the building quickly emptied, knowing how joyful Sunday morning would be when everyone returned. The drape on the cross up front would be purple and white, not black. The lighting full-on, not the single candle silently snuffed out at the end of the service, signifying the Savior’s final breath.  Holy week is the highest point in the Christian’s calender, I believe, and my life’s work granted me the privilege of making it come to life for these people I loved.  What I didn’t know, and wouldn’t discover for several more months, was that my lead didn’t want me on his team.
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This weekend last year, a couple months after leaving Nebraska, I sang in a choir accompanied by full orchestra on Good Friday, then drove up North to my mother in-law’s.  I would lead the music Easter Sunday morning; one voice, one piano, and a congregation of about 30 people, most of them over sixty years of age. To borrow a sports term, I played hurt last year.  I was devastated by the way things ended in Nebraska. I was so discouraged and my self-confidence so low it affected my relationship with my own family. But I knew I dare not allow myself to stop. To do so will allow atrophy to set in, despair would take over and I may never recover.
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To experience the grandeur of full choir and orchestra on Friday night and then 36 hours later the simplicity of one lead voice, one piano  was healthy for me.  It prompted the realization that I brought my best to the game week after week, those years with Calvary; God used me to make a real and measurable difference in people’s lives, contrary to what one leader thought.  We were all better for our having served together.  While still in an emotional body-cast, I knew my efforts there were not in vain, though my dream had been truncated.
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This year I’ve planned no services, led no rehearsals, attended no committee meetings.   There have been no stage resets, level checks or media presentations to tweak. This year I’m a participant. And I’m good with that. I’ve closed the previous book of thirty-seven years and have opened a new volume.
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In mid-January God sat down next to me in a meeting I attended and afterwards seemed to whisper, “Did you like that? Tonight was for you. I orchestrated that you be here.”
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The speaker said that night:
“When you’re suddenly looking for direction
career and job-wise,
don’t overlook the dreams you have deferred in the past,
they will tell you a lot about your passions
and deepest values.”  
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I’d been looking for direction for fourteen months at that point, having resigned in Nebraska at the end of 2013. Since moving ourselves to Wisconsin that February I’ve taken part time jobs while I continue to look. As He spoke, it was as though the Lord walked through my house, flicking on the lights in room after room.
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But of course!  My high school guidance counselor noticed it first. Then a close friend, my mom and sisters, then my aunt.  In 2006 I began this blog to open the door to my writing, and many have mentioned and commented that it brings value to you. But responsibility and duty came first, preventing writing from becoming what I do and what I’m known for.  It was a dream deferred; deferred for the best of reasons, but deferred nonetheless.
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Affirmed by a few friends after the meeting, I opened the door to the goal setting and strategizing those who know me would expect. I didn’t sleep much that night.  I had thinking and praying and planning to do. There were conversations to have, and infrastructural tasks to complete so this would work.
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But first–
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I smiled that just the day before I had released my grip on some hard feelings and resentments. I knew had to, or I would never soar. I couldn’t keep lugging this old baggage along. I had been grappling with a big question. “If I let go, isn’t that the same as saying I don’t care? That it wasn’t important after all? I did care. I still do. Do I just let my life dream perish at the hands of others and pretend everything is okay?” Then Joseph’s words came to mind. His brothers had sold him into slavery years before and now he was in a position to get even – but he didn’t want to.  “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”  His was a big deal too; bigger than mine. If he could, I could. I released it. It was an act of the will.  Cognitive. Volitional. There were no tears, no great emotional rush. I just decided. I’m leaving this here and moving forward.  And the very next night He introduced this new idea. Amazing.
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A month later, nearly to the day, I interviewed a business owner from several states away who would become my first client in this endeavor.  I’m teaching at church, enjoying the life group entrusted to me and the lives who draw from my insights into the Word as we study together, but I’m a volunteer now.
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I have a solid goal set.  The goal is in ink, the date is in pencil, but I can tell you with one glance at my phone how many days till my goal.  Dave, a good friend of mine was the one who said it first: “This isn’t a new chapter, Phil, this is a whole new book.  I wonder how many books will be the result? Time will tell.
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A friend and praise team member said to me almost a year and a half ago, “I think you’re in for a rest, Phil. An unwanted, but needed rest, because your next role is going to call for every bit the energy you have invested here.”
Thank you, Janet, I believe you were right.
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 -Phil-sig- TranspBkgd
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