How are you at accepting change? Are you struggling with having to make some unplanned changes right now? I would love to tell you that I am always flexible and even embrace change when it comes, but that would be such a lie! Change is hard for most of us, especially when things appear to be going well. My husband (who is a real Mister Fix-It when it comes to caring for our home and vehicles) often repeats the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” That phrase expresses well our problem with change; we resist even the thought of change when we do not recognize the need!
Yet, when Jesus issued His invitation to “Follow me,” it was (and still is) a call to living a life yielded to the mysterious necessity of being changed. The fact is, before God we are all hopelessly broken and cannot fix ourselves.
Consider the words of Jesus’ mysterious call for change in the hearts of all who seek Him:
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again . . . I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-8)
Change is synonymous with the spiritual necessity of being “born again.” The change we need is spiritual; which is why our efforts to make behavioral changes performed through self-determination or having good intentions cannot save us. How is such change initiated? The first words of Jesus recorded in The Gospel of Mark give us clarity, “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God. ‘The time has come,” He said. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News!’” (1:14,15) It is the humble confession of sin in humility and faith that begins the mysterious process of our spiritual change.
After having begun our spiritual journey with Christ, we find direction in how to proceed from there. Jesus declared in Matthew 18:3,
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus warns us to let go when change looms . . . to trust Him in the everyday business of life. In recent months I have been hounded by the prospect of significant change that will impact me and many I serve in the new year. It has been a roller coaster ride as I have done my best to quell my fears by clinging to God’s goodness in the process. That is why the insights on change I read in a Community Bible Study (CBS) commentary on Hebrews grabbed my attention:
“God is often too radical for us; He seems always to be expecting us to change. The word conversion means change. And spiritual growth involves change–if not an abrupt, external change of behavior, certainly an inner altering of attitudes and values. . . . But this does not happen easily for most of us. We fight it every step of the way. Perhaps our most subtle struggle is between our natural tendency to settle down and be comfortable where we are, and our newly born desire to make the changes God has planned for us.” (Lesson 9 of Hebrews study, p 106)
The reminder that the word for conversion in the Bible means change really hit the mark for me. It was a reminder that conversion (and therefore change) is a means of our Shepherd working out blessing, as we are stretched and have to trust Him more. And what is God’s objective in challenging us through change? The answer is simply and eloquently put in James 1:2-5,“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials (changes) of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. I any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Over time, God has graciously taught me that change, in His wise and capable hands, is always about growing a mature faith. Whatever challenge or change you may face, put your trust in Him. I have to admit that I still balk at change, but He is teaching me to take a deep breath as He continues to work out His purposes through change.
All to His Glory!