In June of 2005, George and I bought our first home together in preparation to be married six months later. I had just sold my previous home and my adventure-driven fiancée was living on his 50’ sailboat. In preparation for the life we would begin together, we found a beautiful home in Mandeville, Louisiana where my son, James and John Mark and I would live until we were married in December of that year. Our home was beautifully seated near Bayou Castine and was only blocks away from Lake Pontchartrain. Our property was surrounded by beautiful trees and Louisiana wildlife.
This was an exciting fresh start for me, personally. After experiencing much grief and sadness with the loss of my first husband, John years earlier, this new season was an unexpected surprise. I was now enjoying a brand-new home and looking forward to the promise of joy-filled memories we would share with our newly forming family.
I began shopping and decorating in order to celebrate the new home we purchased. It was fun to shop with George as we blended our styles and tastes while picking out furniture, rugs, and artwork. It allowed us to know each other in an even deeper way while we discovered yet another layer of each other’s tapestry.
At the time, I was leading my own business as a speaker/teacher and author. I was surrounded by a team of 30+ women who faithfully led conferences with me throughout the United States. My speaking calendar was full, opportunities were multiplying, and it was an incredibly exciting time in my life, to say the very least.
On August 29th, only 8 weeks after the purchase of our new home, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana and decimated our beloved city. Flooding, tornados, the loss of life for so many wreaked havoc like never before in New Orleans. It was a devastating time filled with horror and disbelief that covered our entire city like a tidal wave.
In the midst of this, George received a word from the Lord about specific next steps for our family which involved a necessary transition. Very clearly the Lord instructed our family to relocate to Colorado. We packed only a few suitcases and began driving towards our new destination as we sorrowfully left behind our friends, family, ministry, and a lifetime of memories. While we knew the Lord was leading us to a new place for a new purpose, it was painful also leaving behind the home I had already imagined being my "happily ever after".
Transitional times in my life have mostly arrived as category five hurricanes rather than a gently-blowing breeze for some reason. I believe the Lord knows that I will resist change until it comes with hurricane-force because I loyally and passionately plant myself within every assignment. At the same time, I know that the Lord continues to call me to a deeper trust within new levels of leadership and dependence. In the loving but necessary process of uprooting my comfort zone, I am again faced with trusting the Lord for the “next” and painfully letting go of the “obviously over”.
The Cave of Adullam
In 1 Samuel 22, we find David also standing in a place of transition. David was previously anointed as King of Israel by the prophet Samuel and at the same time, was serving King Saul who was still in leadership. As scripture reveals, David’s leadership and influence grows and becomes more obvious. Saul becomes more and more jealous of David’s success as a warrior rather than celebrate his anointing in battle. Through his jealousy, he begins making a rather long sequence of decisions to now extinguish David completely.
In this text, we see that David carefully obeys the Lord’s direction and places himself within a cave, a place of safety and stronghold while he waits for his next step. His family learns of his destination and join him there. Scripture then says that"people begin gathering there with David" – those who were in distress and broken – and David becomes their commander.
Reading ahead through scripture, we come to understand that the cave of Adullam was not David’s final destination. He rises from this time of trial and steps fully into the leadership of his anointing. However, within this time of David’s transitional leadership, we can discover several wisdom-filled truths.
Depend on the Lord for every step…
Over and again throughout Saul’s pursuit, David would inquire of the Lord when he didn’t know what to do or where to go. He leaned into the Lord rather than lean away.
Times of transition can be filled with normal but intense feelings of insecurity and fear. Depending on the circumstance that brings the necessity of transition will intensify or ease the emotions that arise while we wait. I really believe our utter dependence on the Lord is the most critical step in transitioning well. Like David, we must continually bring our fears, insecurities, and questions before the Lord so He can provide perspective and fill us with His peace and security while we wait in His presence. Listen to the Lord's faithful instruction before you respond or act.
Remain in the stronghold until the Lord releases you…
When we are in a season of change, we must realize that the place of transition IS a place of safety for us because the in-between is ordained by the Lord. The very realization of this fights everything within our logic and even our past experiences. While in the stronghold of waiting, it allows us the space to remember “what was” and at the same time anticipate the “not just yet” while we wait for the next assignment. Quietness and stillness is a necessary holding pattern where the Lord can take the familiar pace of “what was” and put it in its proper perspective of finality. It also frames the possibilities of “what is to come” to prepare our hearts for our next “yes”.
The Lord will surround you with those to stand with you...
Notice that in the text, it doesn’t say that David went on a search to find people who would agree with him or support him. It says, “the Lord brought those in distress” to David. What I love about this is that it’s easy to imagine David perceiving himself as a weakened leader because after all, he was hiding in a cave rather than being stationed on a battlefield. However, the warrior-heart that David possessed was not being silenced, it was being repositioned to lead in an even greater way. Through wrestling and questioning his anointing and the reality of Saul’s intentions, it crafted a heart of compassion within David for those who also felt the pain of unrest. The Lord trusted David with those who had also been hurt, afraid, and felt misunderstood because of David's deeper understanding. When, like David, we are taught through the transition, the Lord will use the compassion and wisdom gained in order to broaden our influence. David had not been side-lined – he was being strengthened for greater work while he remained hidden.
David became their commander…
Here, in the most difficult circumstance, we see that once again, David’s leadership rises. He was anointed by the very hand of God – not purposed because of King Saul’s approval or disapproval. We see throughout David’s life, over and again, the mantle of leadership remains strongly apparent. Through his obedience to his re-positioning, the Lord strengthened within him the destiny that was placed inside him all along.
As I write, it has now been 15 years since our transition from New Orleans to Colorado. Our family found a new home to continue our "happily ever after" story and the transition has only enriched God's purpose for our lives.
Through the years, I have faced a few "cave" times since our initial move and there have been other hurricanes of change that I have experienced as well. Within each of these times, the uncomfortableness of embracing the necessary season of transition is still difficult. However, I have come to more fully understand that God can be trusted through every season of life. I have continued to be surprised by the "what's next" and continued to struggle against leaving behind the "what was". But, in the wrestling between both, I have found, like David, that the purpose and anointing over my life do not change because of transition - it only becomes more defined.
If you are in a cave waiting for your next assignment – let me encourage you to be still, be quiet, and remain tethered to the Lord. He will speak. He will act. He will protect. He will provide. And most of all, He will fulfill the desires He has placed within your heart as you trust Him and embrace the necessary in-between place of strength.
Praying for you -
You are seen. You are loved. You are treasured -
-Stephanie Stephanie Henderson leads She Leads Women’s Leadership Academy and Loved, Seen Treasured Virtual Women's Community. She is an executive coach, author, speaker, pastor, and podcast host. Visit our site for more information at stephaniehenderson.org.