I often repeat the motto, ‘In a transition, the process is always more important than any one result.” For example; If you are moving your family to another city, you may think it is important to pack your glassware so that your cups don’t chip. In reality, the process of getting everyone in the family to make the transition, have their concerns recognized, and feel positive about the move, is more important. Surrounding any result we wish to achieve in a transitional period, there is a greater process. Sometimes by sheer will power and the cunning manipulation of others, we achieve our desired result. Often we fail in the process to establish relationships and procedures that we can live with in the future.
Consider the 16 year old boy who wishes to have a driver’s license. His parents inform him of certain requirements; he must faithfully complete household chores, keep his grades up, and get a summer job to pay for gas. For months, the boy can think of nothing but how much better his life will be with a driver’s license. He signs up for driver’s education and begins lurching his way through actually driving a car under adult supervision. He goes to the test, thinking he knows all that he needs to know, and fails it twice. When he finally gets his license, he will say that this end result was everything. In actuality, the character lessons he learned from the process will prove much more valuable. The education that he has received by doing the process may save his life and benefit countless others.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the story of Jonah. In the third chapter, the people of Nineveh enter into a process of prayer and fasting in order to save their city. When the forty days are up, and there’s been no divine judgement, they go on their merry way. Neither Jonah, nor the people of Nineveh, seem to consider that the process of prayer and fasting might be the real lesson. I don’t think God invented prayer for us to get the results we want. If the people of Nineveh had valued the process, their city might be here today.
Prayer is an essential aspect of any healthy transitional process. Through fasting and wilderness prayer experiences, we learn to focus, not on results, but on relationships, spiritual principles, and legitimate process.
There is an old (and slightly new age) saying:
“No matter where you go, there you are.”
When you get to where you are moving to, or when you complete the next major life transition that befalls you, will you have added to your tool box of life skills some spiritual processes that will help you to be a better person?