We All Must Change
We All Must Change
Change by its’ nature is stressful. This is true whether it be change we have longed for or change we do not want. But there is no pause button in life. We cannot stay where we are, or remain the same. Through the years that I have walked with God I have confronted many changes, and I know you have too. Through the changes I have faced, I have been vividly reminded of my ultimate and utter reliance on God, and that I want and need Him to lead me through every change.
TWO FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES ON CHANGE
(1) God NEVER changes! “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
(2) We MUST change! Jesus told his disciples they had to change! “He called a little child and had him stand among them. He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-3).
We all must change. Sometimes change is gradual, as in the growth of a child. And sometimes it is sudden, as when someone we love dies, or like for America when the attacks on 9/11 happened. You may be going through a major change now or you will soon. In His great grace, God puts within His people a longing to lean on Him in and through the changes of our life. Why does He do this? It is because He loves us so much, and because He has been, is now, and will continue to be with us. It is because He is forever faithful and unchanging!
DECISIVE ACTIONS FOR FACING CHANGE
Almighty God is forever on His Throne. He is Lord of the universe; Lord over all! The One who created the heavens and the earth gave life to each of us! He loves us and offers to us an invitation to lean on Him in and through our seasons of change! God’s Word reveals three decisive actions we must take as we deal with change. As we take such actions we can know with certainty that our God will guide us in and through our seasons of change. For each of these we can look at someone in the Bible who modeled this action in their own season of change.
1. LISTEN TO HIM. One decisive action we must take in our seasons of change is to listen carefully to Him. Read I Samuel 3. God had major change in store for young Samuel. But Samuel had no idea he could actually listen to God! When at last he came to understand that the Lord desired to speak to him, he rightly prayed “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”.
God will not force you to listen to Him. You may be in His Holy presence and yet choose to cover your spiritual ears, effectively and tragically tuning him out. But God gives us the opportunity to listen! In faith we must choose to do so, coming before Him in prayer, opening His Word and seeking His face, praying as Samuel did, asking God to enable us to hear. We must listen to Him!
Jesus set for us such an example. Though He was God With Us, He was at the same time fully human. He prayed and listened. An example of this is seen in Luke 6. Jesus was facing change. He had a major decision to make, with long-term implications, and He wanted to get it right. Jesus did what we too must do. He pushed aside all distractions to pray and listen!
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
Through Jesus Christ we can choose the same decisive action! In and through our seasons of change we can listen carefully to God. God is speaking. The question for each of us is: am I listening? There have been so many times in the transitions of my own life when I have had to listen carefully or lest I miss the Lord’s will.
2. OBEY GOD’S WORD. A 2nd decisive action to take in seasons of change is to choose to obey God’s Word. This must be our conscious choice – even when we are afraid, or the way seems especially dangerous or difficult.
Read Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were young men who had gone through major change. Born in Judah, they were dragged far away as captives to Babylon where they were then chosen to be trained in a private school for future leaders. Like today they faced many temptations to compromise, to adopt the standards of this world as their own!
But these men were determined to obey God’s Word. King Nebuchadnezzar erected a 90 foot tall statue covered in gold, and issued a decree that when the music was heard in the public square everyone was to bow down and worship this statue. But notice the response of these men.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not we want you to know O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Furious, the king ordered that they be immediately bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. The soldiers carrying out this sentence died, as the flames consumed them. But what happened to the three young men who chose to obey God?
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty”. He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods (Daniel 3:24-25).
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted out: “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisors crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them (Daniel 3:26-27).
In light of the challenges and trials that are part of our own lives, as God’s people we can find encouragement that God did not exempt these faithful and obedient young men from their fiery trial! Rather, He did something better! God was with them in their trial! Such a privilege makes the struggle worth it all, for our God is with us too. We know this when we choose to obey His Word!
Jesus set for us an example in this too. In His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39f), as He faced the horror of suffering and dying for my sins and yours, Jesus did not run away. Rather, He decisively chose obedience praying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In reply the Father sent an angel to minister to Jesus! God ministers to all who follow the Lord Jesus when we choose obedience even when the way is hard. We must always resolve to obey His Word.
3. WALK WITH GOD. A 3rd decisive action we must take in seasons of change is to purposefully walk with God. The reason I use the word walk is it implies relationship and movement. We are called and invited to go forward with the Lord because He does not want us to stay where we are, and He alone knows the way to the place where we are going! It is said of two men of great faith in the book of Genesis that they walked with God. “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22), and “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).
So did Mary. After her amazing encounter with the angel Gabriel, what did she do? Luke 1:39f describes how she immediately began walking the walk. She walked to a town in the hill country of Judea where she met her cousin Elizabeth who was by then 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary then poured out her worship to the Lord, “My soul glorifies the Lord….” (Luke 1:46f).
What a beautiful example of walking with God! When you think you are facing major changes turn to Luke 1 and consider Mary! She was a young teenager, betrothed to Joseph! Then an angel of the Lord appeared and greeted her and told her these amazing things: You are highly favored with God. You will have a child. Joseph will not be the baby’s father; God will. Your child will be the Son of God. God will give to Him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will never end! Mary asked an obvious question, “How can this be?” The Angel did not explain the details to Mary, but left her and us with this faith reminder: “No word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).
Don’t you love Mary’s response to this? Her response is the response of one who walks with God in and through the changes of life. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). This is trust! It is peace, confidence and faith in God! Mary determined to walk in faith with God in and through this and every change. You and I can do the same.
Change happens for all of us. It may be very gradual or very sudden, but change is part of life. And whenever change comes, in Jesus Christ we can stand upon these unshakeable truths: God does not change, but we must change. He is inviting us to go with Him through all the transitions of our life, including the changes we are facing right now. We can do this by decisively choosing to: Listen to God, Obey God’s Word, and Walk with God. This is what we can do. Now let us do so.