by Candice Irion
Note from Eric: If you happened to watch the link I posted last week to the video “Lana’s Hope,” you’ll already know the heart of our writer this week. Candice Irion is a writer, director and photographer who helped to capture and tell the story of “Lana’s Hope,” both for us and for the encouragement of others going through tough situations in their lives. Candice has gone through her own as well, and in this week’s post she shares how God has used the “crucible” of a recent transition to help transform her more into His image. (By the way, thanks to those who donated last week to our project for “Lana’s Hope is My Hope.” So far we’ve raised over $3,300. If you’d still like to donate and help our friends Dan and Emily Okall as they move to Kenya to continue their work of breast cancer education and care, click here.) Here’s Candice’s story…
“We… are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
I’ll come right out with it. There is nothing easy about transitions. They all incur choices, considerations and possibly some of the biggest trials you’ll go through. To me, seasons of transitions have been like walking through storms: lightning, heat, fire, gushes of water, you name it. It is there.
My most recent transition was a move. I’m still dealing with it. When I found out my husband and I were moving, I thought I was going into some sort of exile. Quite literally and sorry to admit. But, yes, I did.
With earlier transitions I’d tell you I went on several round trips to hell with no frequent flyer miles to boot. I suffered losses of the worst kind and believe me, I never want to go back. Hell is well… hell. What can I say?
So transitions and me? I’d say we are tight, but I don’t like them that much. We aren’t friends, nor do I really care to offer that kind of amiable middle ground to transition. We won’t be Facebook friends any time soon.
But transitions are in my life and in yours too. Yours might be the same as mine or different. Either way, transitions are there for better or worse, good or bad, in sickness and in health… basically, for the long haul.
God has used transitions in my life for many reasons, and if hindsight is really 20/20, I have to say that counter to my disdain of going through transitions, the end results have been quite fruitful.
God has used transitions in my life to transform me into His likeness.
Granted, I haven’t always liked the transition God has used and I have kicked and screamed my way through, but over time, I’ve learned to trust God’s choice in transition and not battled back so hard the more times I’ve gone through them. (BTW, not battling so hard does make the transition a bit easier. Ask me how I know). (:
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and do some dirty work. Someone’s got to right? It might as well be you and me considering we are the principal players in our lives.
Let’s gain some understanding about transitions on a general level. For starters, transition is defined in two ways: a noun and a verb. (Starting out difficult already, eh?)
According to our friend Webster, a transition in noun form is: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
As a verb, transition is: to undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition.
Another fun fact is that the term transition seems to have been used more after the year 2010 than in the 1800’s. Interesting sign of the times, isn’t it?
But boiling it down, being in transition is like being in a metamorphic state. There are many feelings of movement and one doesn’t come out the same as when they started the process.
Being in transitions is like a form of material being in a crucible. A crucible is a vessel that can withstand temperatures hotter than we can pronounce (like a gabillion degrees). Many times crucibles were made out of clay, but many times materials like silver and gold were put into crucibles to be refined.
In the screenwriting world, Hal Croasmun of ScreenwritingU, instructs writers to put their characters in a “crucible” of some sort, heat up the pressure and allow the characters to react true to their nature. Some of the most fiery scenes have come from this technique. It’s a great method of character development.
In a similar fashion, transition has been a crucible in my life. It has been an agent of refining, of boiling out impurities, of overturning perceptions, of shifting my fleshly ways to spiritual ones.
We’ll use my recent move as an example. I mentioned I felt like I was going into exile. And how did I react to the news? Many times, I was a royal pain! It’s true. I was. I didn’t want to move. My business, my life, my everything was where I was and I wanted to stay. Wouldn’t you?
But when I got to my new place, I began to witness what God was up to and subsequently calmed down. He wrestled out issues that had seeded themselves deep within me. He changed the focus of my business. He put me in a place where it is quiet and I could do that. Then He surged up more deep issues. He weeded out other relationships that needed to go. He brought back pottery into my life. Through the process of throwing bowls, He got me back on the horse with some business perceptions I struggled through. He deepened my marriage. Ultimately, God has used this move, this transition, as His crucible to boil out the bad, heal the hurt parts and replace it with the good. It has been one of the most active catalysts in my life.
Now when I see a transition, I realize what it is: a crucible with experiences both good and difficult. What is your perception of transition?
Furthermore, how will you react when God brings transition into your life? Will you trust or will you fight? Will you kick, scream and battle your way or will you commit to persevering through?
Before you answer that, let’s read a bit from Jim Reimann, who illustrates a comforting purpose in transition and crucibles.
“For a jeweler sits as he refines precious metals, such as silver. He puts the silver in the crucible, puts the fire to it, but does not then walk away, leaving it on its own. No, he sits and watches it, being careful not to set the fire too hot, which may ruin the metal, nor set it too low, which will not allow the heat to do its work to burn away the dross and impurities. He sits carefully watching the metal, all the while adjusting the fire to exactly the right temperature. And when does he know it is perfectly pure? When the jeweler can see his face in the metal, for it reflects his likeness.”
Jim’s next words are inspiring. “In the same way, the Lord sends the heat of the suffering into our lives to burn away our impurities and to conform us “to the likeness of His Son,’” (Rom. 8:29).
I can 100% attest that through my transition, God has never left my side. Not for a second. Not even in my worst moments. God has even drawn nearer.
So take comfort. If you are experiencing transition on any scale, know that He won’t leave your side, not for a second. He will be with you in the loneliest of times to the most joyful, whatever the temperature is.
Also know that the transition isn’t the end of the world, but instead, is a crucible to get you to where you need to go. Ironically, I never went into exile like I thought I was, but instead, far from it. Instead, God brought me into freedom.
Lastly, there is a purpose in this transition and if there is ever a time to trust, this is it. Hold back on the kicking and screaming and try to be led “beside the quiet waters,” allowing Him to restore your soul (see Ps. 23).
Granted, you may too think you are going into exile and wonder why God has sent you on a tour through hell. I’ve been there and get that. But, the second you transfix your eyes away from your situation and onto God and His promises to carry you through, is the moment you transition beyond; no longer just staring helplessly at the crucible but now staring hopefully at the One crucified. For He, part of the Triune Godhead, (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) understand our hearts more than ourselves.
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words,” (Romans 8:26).
Another comfort is to remember that the intense time of hurt, sorrow and grief will only be for a season. The rage of difficulty will pass like the violent summer storms. The heat the silver experienced inside the crucible was just momentary.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
And then the day those clouds part, the hour the silver comes out of the fire, the time the clay bowl finally cools and the moment the crucible is removed, what is left shines so brightly, for it has been transformed into His image. He will look into His precious one, into you, into me, and see His reflection.
God will use your transition to transform you.
Going through it will be tough and potentially unwanted, but as you transfix your eyes upon Him, you will see what He sees and you can trust Him to carry you through.
Here are some verses of encouragement as you walk through your season of transition:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” (Romans. 8:18).
“…Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” (Hebrews 12:2).
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy,” (Psalm. 126:6).
“And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit,” (2 Corinthians. 3:18).
Follow-up from Eric: To read more from Candice, I hope you’ll check out her blog at candiceirion.blogspot.com. And if you’re going through a transition of your own and need to know that God can use it for good, I hope you’ll join us for our fall retreat in October. Our theme is “transitions” and you’ll get a chance to hear more stories, in person, of how God can walk you through whatever transition you’re going through. Follow this link to learn more or to register! Lastly, you can still donate to “Lana’s Hope” and get a colorful reminder band as our way of saying thanks. Just visit “Lana’s Hope is My Hope” to donate.
Copy © Candice Irion. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture passages are from the NASB and NIV Bibles.
Reimann, J., ed. Morning By Morning: The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. Print.
You can still help make Lana’s dreams come true. To learn more, visit www.LanasHope.com.