“How one leaves the last setting will be a key as to how one enters the next one…”
This is true at many levels – the old adeage that is often spoken in the context of marriage: ‘there has to be a leaving in order for there to be a cleaving’ is very true. It is not that the old setting was intrinsically wrong, simply that there has to be a wholehearted embracing of any new phase in life. There might even be an element of this that lies behind Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to shake the dust of their shoes if they are not received. It acts as a symbolic statement of judegement on that town, but also gives the disciples a new direction without the encumbrances of the previous situation.
With a large transition the crisis, leading to grief, forces us to prepares for the separation that will be necessary. It is vital that there can become a wholehearted connection with the new situation, that any level of regret (‘if only…’) is dealt with.
So the first element is to try and ensure that the previous situation is left well. This involves thankfulness for all that has been done, for all the lessons that have been learned. It is not wise to leave a situation saying – ‘I wish I had never been there / done that’, unless of course it was clearly a wrong place to be. The Lord is with us in every situation and that becomes an element we have to embrace. To leave saying ‘thankyou Lord for all that I have experienced’ is a wonderful dynamic and gives a good platform for what comes. To leave just criticising the old scenario is not a mature position to take, and often if we do so we will one day again simply criticise the next situation. Eventually a lack of thankfulness will lead to a measure of cynicism.
Arriving at the position of thankfulness can take time, and if there is an overwhelming sense of regret that can be very difficult, but simply burying ones head in the sand and denying what took place is not helpful.
Likewise if there are painful experiences that we had that need to be learned from, or even if there are apologies to be made then as far as possible this needs to be embraced.
Entering the new phase requires faith. God is a God who is always looking forward, he is a redemptive Lord and we can enter a new phase positively. In each phase we shoudl expect a greater level of effectiveness. This might not mean increasing outward success or greater profile simply greater effectiveness. [Life in the new covenant is defined not by what happens in us, but what is taking palce through us.]
This aspect of effectiveness is something that will be looked at when we consider time-lines.