12 Oct The Shift is On
In the game of baseball, a shift is a defensive realignment or strategy to maximize defensive efficiency. Thought up by a guy named Lou Boudreau, starting shortstop of the Cleveland Indians, the shift first appeared on the baseball scene in 1946. This strategic move was intended to stop a guy named Ted Williams, one of the best hitters to ever play the game of baseball. This realignment proved to be effective when Williams’ batting average dropped around 16 points after the shift was implemented.
The Lord gave me this little baseball history lesson before exclaiming that, “The Shift is On!” He said He is moving many into new assignments, new levels of authority and new spheres of influence. He pointed out that in order to accomplish forward and upward momentum, people and relationships must shift around them too.
Here are three relational shifts currently happening around those that God is moving into the new:
God is Shifting Relationships Out of Your Life
There was a time and season where being aligned and in close relationship with certain people was critical to what God was doing in you and what He was bringing you through. But the current season change requires space for you to grow into the new, therefore, you’ll find yourselves growing apart. The Lord is repositioning you (and them) for increase and in this transition time, what’s most important is making room for the preparatory work of the Holy Spirit.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The enemy will try to shift people out, however, that are supposed to remain. As relational shifts are taking place, be watchful of the covenant-breaking spirit that would try to tear you away from or stir up strife and division with those you are supposed to be working together with to advance the Kingdom. There are some relationships that are life-long, and we must be intentional about properly nurturing and stewarding those relationships through every season. Be grateful for them, be quick to forgive, speak life over them, and together, you’ll fulfill the purposes of God for your generation. This scriptural charge came to mind:
“…I plead with you to walk holy, in a way that is suitable to your high rank, given to you in your divine calling. With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny.” (Ephesians 4:1-4 TPT)
God is Shifting New Relationships Into Your Life
The same way He is moving people out of your relational circle, God’s bringing new people in. There are new relationships coming for the new season. They will open doors to new opportunities and serve as voices of wise counsel to help sharpen and sustain you into the new. Keep your discernment on because some of these new relationships will be covenantal “lifer” relationships; ones that will go with you through every season of life (just as a few from the past season are). I see the formation of relational collectives for accountability, encouragement and intentional Kingdom building. Many will meet regularly over meals in homes and some will even retreat to seek the Lord together, bringing new joys.
“Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
In this transition season, however, the enemy will try to shift people in to deter your forward movement. The enemy isn’t all-knowing like God, but he certainly can be strategic. He sees all the shifting and swirling going on around you, which is why he is trying to plant moles in your camp to distract and keep you from the new. Again, keep your discernment on high alert to weed out those that want to deter you from those that are really for you.
There is much wisdom in Jesus’ approach to new relationships: “But Jesus did not yet entrust himself to them, because he knew how fickle human hearts can be.” (John 2:24)
God is Restoring Broken Relationships
As the Lord was speaking to me about these relational shifts, I saw the book of Philemon coming into focus. The book of Philemon is just one chapter and its premise is this: Reconciliation.
The Lord is in the process of restoring prodigal relationships. A prodigal is a person who spends or has spent, his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance; a spendthrift. This points to those who have not properly stewarded and therefore, have wasted away their relational equity with key Kingdom connections.
For some, these fractured relationships have caused deep hurts, hindering to some extent your Kingdom assignment. For others, that fractured relationship has caused you to feel like your Kingdom assignment has been aborted. Whether you are the relational prodigal or are grieving because someone dear to you is, the Father is extending an invitation to be reconciled to one another; the courage to come home and the grace to forgive.
“Perhaps you could think of it this way: he was separated from you for a short time so that you could have him back forever. So welcome him no longer as a slave, but more than that, as a dearly loved brother. And if he has stolen anything from you or owes you anything, just place it on my account. May the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, be with your spirit!” (Philemon 1:15-16a, 18, 25)
By restoring these broken relationships, God desires to heal hearts, renew our strength and reposition us for the race ahead. Reconciliation will shed light on the lies that the enemy has fed you, tearing down misconceptions, restoring hope and bringing wholeness for successfully navigating through your new season shifts.
Although it took him a little while to figure it out, Ted Williams eventually got better at hitting against the shift, thus raising his batting average once again. You’ll do well with these shifts as long as you lean in close to the Lord to discern what type of realignment God is orchestrating and yield to Holy Spirit’s lead. New assignments, new levels of authority and new spheres of influence await. The shift is on!