It’s usually the case that to gain something you must give something up. To get a new job or car or house you must give up the old one. You can’t have the advantages of marriage and singleness or adulthood and childhood at the same time.
What’s really hard is those times when you’ve had to give up the old and the new hasn’t shown up yet. In those times it is easy to feel like a silhouette of who you were, an echo. Have you ever wondered if a caterpillar could feel like we do, if it would regret going into the cocoon. It is not what it was, it can’t go back, it must go forward but everything hangs in the balance, there’s no certainty that it will ever become a butterfly.
I used to think Jesus spending forty days in the wilderness right at the beginning of his ministry was really strange, why go away where there’s no one to listen to or watch anything he’s doing. Now it makes a lot more sense to me, Jesus went into that desert what he was, a carpenter, and came out something new, the saviour of the world. When what he had been was allowed to fall away, what he’d always had the potential to be was allowed to come out; but it didn’t happen right away, there’s a sense in which for those forty days he wasn’t what he had been but he wasn’t yet what he would become.
The basic outline of almost every story ever told is the same. Life is going on much as it has for a long while, some problem disrupts that, the characters must find a way to overcome or live with the problem thus establishing a new status-quo. Life is rarely the same at the end as it was at the beginning, problems and challenges force us to grow, change and adapt and we establish a new status-quo. If you are feeling challenged, if you feel you have lost what you were and haven’t become something better yet you are still in the transition, this is the time when you become better than you were. Just as God was with Jesus in the desert he will be with you in your wilderness, he will help you to come out the other side stronger than you went in.