Years ago I spent most weekends bass fishing. (yes, even Sundays B.C.) I totally wanted to become a professional bass fisherman and join Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston with a TV show and great outdoors lifestyle. This morning on my daily walk and talk with God as I passed by a retention pond and saw the abandoned spawning beds of the resident tilapia lining the shoreline, a word popped into my head. After many stinging lessons that pointed to the fact I’d never make it as a pro bass fisherman, I had not thought of the words lake turnover for a very long time! Basically, twice a year or more water temperature changes cause layers of like-temperature water to change and turn over. During those times when water is cold, fish become less active and some enter a state of near suspended animation. When turnover happens the fish begin to wake up, like a bear leaving hibernation. They are often disoriented, confused and driven by hunger they are easier for a fisherman to catch!
So it is with us at times. Seasons of life are always with us. Like the fish during times of turnover when we face dramatic changes in our lives it is natural to sense some confusion and disorientation. After all, the landmarks we use to guide our lives seem to have moved or are obscured by the turnover effect. In times of turnover the turmoil can put additional pressure and stress on us that often forces poor decisions and reactions. Know that the enemy takes advantage of believers and waits like a bass fisherman for the times of turnover when the prey is vulnerable.
So how can one find direction when turnover like a staff downsizing or forced termination that is unexpected happens?
- Stop–Don’t rush out and jump on the first interesting thing you see! Take a step back, spend some time in prayer and listening for the Lord’s direction. Open doors are sometimes traps and not opportunities so be alert.
- Look–Review your call to ministry and remind yourself that you are a servant of the Lord called to do His bidding. We can be surprised by the turnovers of life, but our all-knowing God is never surprised. He is never without a desire to lead you safely into the new season of life that is ahead.
- Listen–Above all learn to screen out the bad advice, noise of the world and to focus on hearing the Shepherd’s voice. Like Don Moen’s famous song, God will make a way. He will show it to you and if you listen carefully and respond obediently you’ll be glad you did.
In times like these the confirmation of mature Christian friends and leaders is very helpful. For those that are married, a key is when your spouse is in agreement with you on the steps you will take. One of my favorite tips learned in Bible school was,
“When in doubt, don’t!”
If you are not sure, keep seeking the Lord’s direction until the doubt is gone. The doubt here is not the natural nervousness of a new role or move, but the deep down hesitancy when your spirit is putting on the brakes and you want to push on the gas pedal. That’s a good indication that you need more info, confirmation and direction before you jump into action.