I've been thinking a lot about change lately. Change as my husband and I get ready to move into a new house. Change as my church begins the call process for a new pastor. Change as our country prepares to elect a new president.
It is widely said that people don't like change. However, at a workshop at the Moravian Women's Conference last summer, I learned that it isn't so much that we're change-averse; rather, we need time and the opportunity to mourn what we're losing, or "how things used to be", before we can embrace change. I need time to mourn moving out of Old Salem and no longer being able to walk to work and church. I need time to be sad that one of our ministers is retiring even as our church celebrates for him and visions who we can be under new leadership.
I've never been good with change, so I spent a little time exploring people in the Bible who went through changes, in hopes that I could learn a few lessons from them. People like:
- Ruth, who lost her husband and had to move,
- Job, who was tested by Satan, lost his children, and ended up covered in sores,
- Paul, who met Jesus on the road to Damascus....even his name was changed,
- Mary, mother of Jesus, who was told by an angel that she was going to have a baby and that her child would be the Son of God
I wonder if all of these people needed time to grieve what they were losing in order to accept change. Ruth seemed to, as she cried, "Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go." Job too, as he said, "I would choose strangling and death rather than this body."
Then there's Mary, who believed the angel who told her, "Nothing is impossible with God." What an example of faith...to believe that what God said he would do, he could do. Mary trusted and obeyed God, and she was flexible and patient, even among changes that surely caused her to be questioned, ridiculed, and shunned.
What's changing in your life? Do you need time to mourn a loss before you can embrace the change? How can we be more like Mary in times of change? Trusting, obeying, flexible, and patient?
Of course change can mean something else, literally, as it can be the coins you find in your pocket. When I think of change in terms of money, I also think about grieving a loss....that of the security I think I have when my bank account balance is maintained at a certain level.
If I'm honest with myself, when it comes to my attitude and habits around money, a lot has changed as I've gotten older, but more needs to change. When I read about stewardship in the Moravian Book of Order (We deem it a sacred responsibility and genuine opportunity to be faithful stewards of all God has entrusted to us: our time, our talents, and our financial resources. We view all of life as a sacred trust to be used wisely.), the words "sacred responsibility" and "genuine opportunity" stand out. How exciting to be able to, to be called to give time, talent, and treasure for God's work through our churches, ministries, and in the world.
One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is, "I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God; it changes me."
How might we be changed if our responses to God's grace and generosity at work in our lives were more grateful, more generous, and more open to where He is calling us? If we were more patient, trusting, and flexible, like Mary? It's a scary thought, to consider giving more of "what's mine" away, but it isn't mine, and to live that way will take more change.
In Malachi Chapter 3, verse 6 says, "I the Lord do not change." Thank goodness for that. No matter what comes and goes, or is different today from what it was yesterday, God stays the same. We can find comfort during times of uncertainty, we can find rest when things are unsettled, we can be generous to the point that it's scary as He will always provide for us.
Psalm 33:11 says, "But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations."
This too is great news. We can trust in God's promises and know they are our foundation no matter WHAT changes around us.....and even as what's changing IS us.