The timeline for transition will be different for everyone
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:34–38)
How long does it take after a PCS move before your new house feels like home? You know, that feeling like you belong and you are where you are supposed to be? Settled into your new surroundings you are ready to write the next chapter in your family saga of life in the military, and you know the read will be good!
A sign that transition has been successful is moving to the stage of acceptance. The change is complete. You are in the here and now, present for duty, and ready to get on with life.
In a few days’ time, Peter transitioned from a confused person on a rooftop, trying to make sense of a disconcerting vision, to a preacher ready to break new ground in God’s vineyard. No doubt he walked out his thought process over the two-day journey from Joppa to Caesarea. I wonder if one of the reasons God picked Cornelius for this transition, instead of a Gentile next door, is that he knew Peter would need a little time to process the big change that was coming. A two-day journey, probably on foot, was part of the plan.
When Peter addressed the group of Cornelius’s family and close friends, he preached the first Christian sermon presented to Gentiles. Though this was a new audience for Peter, the content of the sermon was the same he had been preaching to the Jews.1
Peter had rapidly accepted the view that everyone was important to God. He accepted the mission from God to take the gospel to the Gentiles on their home turf. He accepted the conversion of Cornelius and those with him as legitimate. He accepted the fact that God wanted Gentiles in his church as much as he wanted Jews. He led the way in welcoming the new believers as spiritual equals through the sacrament of baptism. Peter had made a major transition in his ministry at breakneck speed.
The timeline for transition will be different for everyone. Some changes and transition come easily and quickly. Other changes drag us kicking and screaming, and the timeframe from avoidance to acceptance is longer than we want. The sooner we arrive at the transitional endpoint of acceptance, the sooner we will start looking for the good in the new phase.
What transition in your life has come quickly? What transition in your life has taken a long time? What factors made the difference in the timeline?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, help me to cooperate with your plan for my life. Thank you for the times when transition has been easy and quick. Whatever the timeline, teach me the lessons I need to learn in the process. Amen.
1 John Stott, The Spirit the Church and the World: The Message of Acts (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 189.