A friend of mine recently told me that he chooses to not use the word “change” to avoid the fear that seems to attach itself when change is mentioned. Instead he prefers to term change as “making adjustments”.
Looking ahead to 2017 another friend of mine broadcasted this statement “This year, I’d rather fail in faith than miss an opportunity in fear” In preparing a sermon to set the scene for our church this year and encourage people around the changes they were about to encounter I found this statement embodying what God had been preparing in my heart in the weeks earlier.
When we talk about change, particularly in a community church setting, barriers go up, fear sets in and then we tend to look to the past as a way of doing things and rationalize the future through one of these lenses, if not all three.
Such was the case for the Israelites who at times embraced the change from slavery in Egypt and at other times grumbled and longed for the old days. The unwillingness to change came to a head when they were getting ready to step into the promised land for the first time. Remember, they had seen God work powerfully in bringing them out of Egypt, witnessing the plagues in Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea before showing them His glory at Mount Sinai. Despite this witness, when the spies came back from their scouting mission of the promised land, the verdict of ten was it was too difficult to take the land, God’s chosen people missed an opportunity in fear that would see them stuck in a holding pattern until those pockets of unwillingness to progress had been removed.
In my life, as I look back, I can pin point many times where out of fear, insecurity and lack of faith I have found myself in the regret of missed opportunity.
Change and the challenge it brings is nothing new, it happens to us from the second we are born. We are always progressing, adapting, growing or as my friend puts it “making adjustments”, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. It’s the same right through the narrative of scripture as we see God patiently moving humanity through His process according to His will. The question is, are we aligning ourselves through faith to His process, or stuck in the holding pattern of fear and unwillingness to move forward?
When change is upon us and fear sets in be encouraged! I believe that these feelings and apprehensions are a sure sign that you are indeed exercising your faith and heeding the call of God on your life.
In John 20:19-29 we see perhaps one of the most uncomfortable and challenging times Jesus’ disciples faced in their ministry. We find them hiding and locked away in a holding pattern of fear and uncertainty, no doubt wondering where their promised Messiah was, or if He’d turn up at all. This was a the turning point for humanity and their role, was to step out of that room in faith that God might align them to His purpose for them and their part in establishing this change, that today we know as the church.
We as the church are also called to step out in faith, embracing change the same way the disciples did. Be encouraged for the same Jesus that broke down their barriers to meet them where they were, offered them His peace breathing His life on them and offering the Holy Spirit is the same resurrected Jesus at work in and among believers today.
God in the business of changing lives, changing eternities and changing the world. If you’re a Christian, God has and is changing you from glory to glory into the likeness and image of His precious son. Hebrew 10:14 says that we are being made holy. That word being indicates a process. Likewise, Philippians 1:6 says that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”, also indicating a process. So with all this change going on, the question is, are you willing to embrace it?