Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me about endings. January almost seems to be a strange time to be thinking about endings. It is a new year, a fresh start, and a time for new beginnings, so why the endings? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that beginnings and endings are a continuous loop. Beginnings are birthed from endings.
A birth is the end of a pregnancy, but gives way to the first breaths of a new life.
A graduation could mean the end of schooling, but the beginning of a career or chosen path.
Retirement is the ending of a career, but only the beginning of a new season to live and love.
The death of a loved one can mean the end of their earthly life with us, but could mean the start of their heavenly life.
Beginnings and endings come hand-in-hand. Sometimes we focus on one more than the other. The difference is only in our perspective.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Sometimes endings feel like starting over. Perhaps you raised your children, and the time has come in which the last one has left the nest. The season for raising your children is over, and now, you find yourself in a new season as an empty-nester. What will you do? Will you wallow and wish for the old days, or embrace the new season?
Or maybe you have spent many years in a career climbing the corporate ladder and you feel like the Lord is calling you into a new direction. You put in your notice at a place where you have been for years to start out with something you may have never done. You could be going from the top of the chain to have to start all the way at the bottom again.
Maybe you have been in ministry for a long time and things are done one such way, but God is calling you to change things. In all of these instances, where there is an ending, there is also a new beginning.
Sometimes, endings can be painful, but what comes next could be even better than what we already had. I remember a missionary that came to speak when I was in ministry school. Something she said has always stuck with me. “It is not the bad things in life that keep you from the best. It is the good things that keep you from the best.” (Joanie Jarrett) Perhaps, that is why at times, when it comes to endings, we drag our feet, we hang on to hope, we do everything but look at the new beginning which this ending could bring forth. That is, until we reach the point where we are miserable and even holding on to hope, find ourselves in a state of hopelessness. We are forced to change. We are forced to write the ending – and not always in quite the beautiful way we anticipated.
I spent a good amount of years at a job I loved. I had been there long enough to see several directors come and go. They were very flexible with my schedule and allowed me to continue my employment even as I went away to college. I had a sense after I graduated and started another job that I should be stepping back from this job, but I didn’t do it. I dug in my heels and dragged my feet. The job I loved for years soon became a source of stress and frustration. When I finally resigned, I was sad, but at the same time, there was such a release that came with it! My exit from this position could have been much easier than it was had I done it months earlier when I knew it was time to end it. The ending could have been better written.
What if we learned to write our endings before we dug our heels in the ground? What if we learned to live as intentionally about our endings as we did our beginnings?
When you write a novel, you end each chapter by setting the stage for what will happen next. Each chapter ending has a purpose and a place in the greater context of the story.
Perhaps God is telling you that it is time to end the chapter you are on now. Do not despair about these endings. If we focus so much on the endings, we miss the joy which can be found in the beginnings. Knowing that there can be a fresh start, or a new beginning may not take away the hurt that can be associated with endings, but it can give you hope that as you intentionally step out in obedience and close the chapter, you know that the story isn’t over yet!
These endings and beginnings, seasons, they shape and prepare you for the extraordinary calling God had written in your book long before you were even formed. Who knows? That ending you have been fighting may be the precursor to stepping into just the very thing that you were created for!