I’ve just now finished up my lesson for small group in the morning. We’re in my favorite book of Scripture, James. I love this book, simply because of the blueprint of instruction that it contains. Basically, James is the outline for how Christians should live, interact with others, and define their character, a character which should be grounded in Christ. To me, reading James is like getting kicked in the mouth over and over again…and, I feel like that’s a great thing for the weak and rebellious follower of Christ that I can often be. There’s nothing like God speaking to you boldly. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s always instructional…especially in James. However, James is not the topic of this blog, so I digress. I apologize.
I had a lot of feedback on my blog yesterday regarding change, and I appreciate the messages. Thank you for the input, and without fail, we all seem to agree that change is inevitably hard at times, but God is relentlessly good all the time. I appreciate you sharing your stories with me, and your faith in God through changing and unstable circumstances.
The thought process of that blog post ended with the fact that God never changes; He should be our foundation, and, regardless of the rough and tumbled ride that change imposes on our lives, He should still receive the glory. That’s tough, but it’s truth.
Quickly this evening, let’s talk about why God imposes change on our lives. Why do people die? Why do friendship end? Why is the paradigm of our life in constant flux?
The answer: Because God is doing something new!
Most people embrace the old; they dislike change, and, thereby, they find it difficult to get overly excited about the possibility of something new entering their life. But God is a God of new beginnings, and He is a God who loves to unfold the beauty of His will to us in the uncomfortable medium of life-change. He’s certainly drug me kicking and screaming into His will on a number of very memorable occasions. I fought hard, and I lost. God’s will won out over my rebellion, and, in every instance, His will was much more pleasing than I could ever imagine! If we embrace it, the changes that God places into our life always, without fail, lead to another step up the ladder of His will. For God’s child, that step up can be hard, but it is always a learning step into another aspect of God’s perfect timing and plan.
Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
If we could rewrite the Bible under our terms, I’m fairly certain that, for some, this passage would read...
“See, I’m doing nothing new, so there’s no need to perceive anything whatsoever. Don't worry; sit back down in your recliner and rest, my beloved child, for I will never push you out of your comfort zone any farther that your fragile emotions can endure. So, be thankful, there’s no need for me to make a way in the wilderness, nor is there a need for any streams in the desert. Just relax in the comfortable ordinary life that I have ordained for you, because it’s my will that you never be pressed out of comfort zone. Go back to sleep.”
Ok, I may have gotten a little carried away with my own version of antithetical Scriptural transliteration, but I still don’t think I’m very far off base.
If many could have their way, their lives would never undergo any change whatsoever. Their faith would never be challenged, and they would live out a lifetime comfortably sleeping through Christian tradition and religious pomp and circumstance. Faith in God would be redefined as only faith that God exists, and faith in God’s power to provide in times of trouble would never be needed. But, sadly for some, we don’t serve that God. We serve a God who loves us beyond measure, and who desires for us to find His will so earnestly that He will push us far beyond the confines of our established comfort zones, in an all out effort to prove His worth and sovereignty to us.
Change happens because God is not a sedentary ruler. He is always active, and, more importantly, He is always in full knowledge of “where we are” versus “where we need to be.” Moreover, that knowledge catalyzes Him to act “upon” us and our circumstances in order to move us in a direction that is favorable to His will “for” us. Consequently, that is a direction that is favorable to us as well, although we often have trouble discerning the benefits at first.
Changes in our life are never without cause, and also, they never arrive lacking a divine intentionality. Whether it’s discipline by God (Him adjusting our course because we’re heading in the totally wrong direction), or determination by God (heading us in a new course because He has something new for us to do), change is always authored by a our heavenly Father who desires good things for us.
Ephesians 1:15-23 says, “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
This whole verse is about change…specifically a change in perspective. Do you remember from my last blog the talk about us finding a stable perspective?
Paul is praying that God would “give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that (they) might know Him (God) better” – changing their knowledge of God and their trust in Him.
He prays that “the eyes of (their) heart might be enlightened in order that (they) may know the hope to which He (God) has called (them)” – changing their outlook and mindset on the future.
He prays that they would understand “the riches of His (God’s) glorious inheritance in His holy people” – a change in their knowledge of self-worth.
He prays that they would understand “His (God’s) incomparably great power for us who believe” – a change in their perception of empowerment.
I could discuss the intricacies of this verse for a while, but, know this…those same changes that Paul is praying for are changes that God often teaches us through paradigm shifts in our life. Those shifts/changes are always leading us to an opportunity for a greater understanding of God. When taken head on through faith, those changes always lead us to a renewed outlook and mindset regarding our future, because we understand that a good and loving God is steering our life towards the perfection of His will. God, working through those changes, should reflect to us that we are His inheritance, the inheritance of His kingdom. If He loves us enough to steer us towards His will on earth, how much greater will the rewards be in Heaven? And finally, understanding that we cannot stop change, and we can only journey through it in His power, we should feel empowered. God has not brought us to a change in our life to abandon us during the process; instead, He has brought us to this change to prove His power to us through it.
If God is doing something new, let Him do it unhindered!
Winston Churchill once said, “If you find yourself walking through hell, keep walking.”
I would say, "If you find yourself in the midst of change, keep praying to God, keep trusting in God, and keep walking towards God. The view from the other side will be fantastic!"
Walk confidently in the “new thing” that God is directing you towards.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!