The challenge of change

Change comes to all of us, whether we like it or not. Personally, I’ve never liked change a whole lot. I get settled in a routine and it’s hard to get me out of it.

God thinks differently, of course, than we do, on this subject as on everything else. He continually uses the pressure of circumstances to force change on us.

Next weekend, we move out of the house we have lived in for nineteen years and the community we have lived in for thirty-four years, in fact for our entire married life. We move out of a relatively secure job I have held all that time and into a who -knows-what-will-happen self-employment role. We move out of pastoral ministry into itinerant ministry. Just about everything that can possibly change is changing. Even the last of our children is going off to university. I have to change my bank, my insurance agent, my mechanic, my doctor, my gym and my favourite coffee shop.

Greek mythology told the tale of the world’s worst clean-up job, the Augean stables. As I recall, only Hercules was up to the job. Cleaning out my office has got to be run a close runner-up to Hercules’ task. Five garbage bags of papers exited my filing cabinet alone. Fifteen boxes of books were donated to a seminary library. On the bright side, some things thought lost for decades were found.

I have had to remind myself that though we are moving outside the realm of human security, we are not leaving the utter safety of divine security. I have had to remind myself that every significant step I have taken in my life that has brought honour and glory to God has been accompanied by some form of gut-wrenching, faith-stretching change.

Why God is so committed to change is because comfort and apathy are usually our sinful default options. This summer, and for the first time, we’ve had an animal temporarily in the house until its owner (our daughter) returns to university. Our resident feline quickly found a number of very comfortable places in the house to find repose, and wasn’t too happy about being moved from them.

Being stuck in a rut may serve our comfort, but it rarely serves God’s purposes. Why? Because God’s kingdom is continually moving forward. It isn’t enough to reach a certain place, then stay there. You have to keep in step with the Spirit, as Paul teaches us, and with what the Lord is doing.

Another way of looking at it is this. Sanctification (the Biblical word for the progress of our life in Christ) is a process starting somewhere (our justification) and leading somewhere (our glorification). Staying in the same place is not an option. Staying in the same place, in fact, is moving backwards. God is looking for continual growth, and growth is just another word for change.

Can I encourage you to embrace change? Refuse to get too comfortable. Always be open to be stretched by the prospect of wider horizons in your life.

The fact is you can do more, way more, than you think you can. That is not positive thinking, it is trust in the powerful working of the Spirit of God within you. He who created the universe is working within you by that very same power to bring the universe to its end goal, the manifestation of the glory of God in the new heavens and the new earth.

Youth with a Mission has always been a radical movement pushing forward the boundaries of the kingdom. Its informal motto has often been identified as this: constant change is here to stay.

Sorry folks, you can’t stay the same. If you do, you might as well give up and die now. The good news is you don’t have to move geographically, take a new job or buy a new house. Change starts in your heart. God will do the rest.

So here’s to all sorts of upset apple carts in your life and mine. That’s usually how his kingdom starts to advance.