Life in Transition: Growing in Grace

n03145_life

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Age Group

Adult

Brief Description

None of us is in school for long before we encounter developmental or life-stage theory–the idea that people move through different stages or “crises” in life. One way to conceive of these stages is the four seasons–spring, summer, fall, and winter. The budding tree of spring, the full leaf of summer, the changing colors of fall, and the stark, bare beauty of winter trees help us visualize the transitions of our own lives. Another way to think of life’s transitions is to divide them into five periods of twenty years–birth to twenty, twenty to forty, forty to sixty, sixty to eighty, and eighty to one hundred. That puts me in the middle of stage four!

However we choose to divide the years of our lives, common threads connect every age. Beginnings and endings are the most common of all human experiences, overarching the entire community and breaking through boundaries. We all share the process of life. Similar hopes and fears connect every generation. We might tell our life stories in terms of disorientation and reorientation, displacement and replacement, disengagement and reengagement, disenchantment and reenchantment. Some things must end before other things can begin.

During this unit, we study the transitions in one biblical family. The story focuses on Jacob, the son of promise, through birth, young adulthood, middle adulthood, and old age. We are fortunate to see the internal struggles of this man. Conflicting endings and beginnings surround Jacob, and we can even see the birth pangs of a new community, the people of God.

Just as Jacob wrestled with the stranger at the river Jabbok, so we might find opportunities to wrestle with our own life transitions. Like Jacob, we might have brief moments of illumination that fill us both with anxious dread and with magnetic attraction. Such is the baffling beauty and bane of life in transition.

by John Hendrix

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