By Rev. Jeff Harter
It is said that if a buzzard is placed in a 6-by-8-foot pen with no top it will not be able to get out, because a buzzard always begins its flight with a 10- to 12-foot run. A bat placed on the ground will lie helplessly, unable to fly, because it always takes off from an elevated position. If a bumblebee is placed in an open jar it will eventually die there, unable to get out. It is unable to look up, and will always search sideways and down for a means of escape.
Thank God we are not like buzzards, bats or bumblebees. God gave us the ability to adapt to change. He also gave us the ability to look up. When we feel trapped or threatened by the changes in our lives, we can look up to God in prayer. He will give us the wisdom and direction to find a way to meet the challenge or adapt to the situation.
Yet, change can be difficult and sometimes painful. Sometimes change is costly. Jesus brought change into the world and into our lives by reconciling us to the Father, and it cost him his life. It may be costly if our job situation changes, we move into another home, or we have to buy another car. Change can be hard to take sometimes. God calls us to repentance, which is a change of heart and a change of direction. When our situation or environment changes, we may need to change in order to adapt and survive. When a relationship ends or a loved one dies, our lives may change dramatically.
Because it is often costly and difficult, we tend to resist change. We don’t normally like it, and may try to avoid it. But change is all around us. Our families change, our communities change, our churches change. Our bodies change as we grow up and grow old.
We are often called to action if we are to meet the challenges that change presents to us. Winston Churchill once said, “If we don’t take change by the hand, it will take us by the throat.” If we try to ignore change and pretend it isn’t happening we will likely face more pain and problems than we would have if we had recognized it and dealt with it.
Change can be a positive thing. We can thank God for many of the changes that have happened in our lives. Change has given us cars, telephones, radios, TVs and indoor plumbing. We can thank God for the advances in medical technology. It is often good to work toward change.
However, as we bring about change, we should keep in mind that it must be God-ordained if it is to be positive. Otherwise, we may be changing something against God’s will. We need to pray and reflect on changes that we are considering. If it is a God-ordained change, we can be certain that God will help us through it. And, if is God-ordained, the change can be exciting. God may lead us to new places in life, show us new and wonderful possibilities, and offer us new blessings. We can grow through such change and become more and better than we were before. As God sustains us, even difficult change can make us stronger and better people.
As we deal with the changes in our lives, we can think of the following acronym:
Change may be Costly, and is often Hard. It calls for Action. It is often Necessary if it is God-ordained. It can be Exciting as God Sustains us.
God is always with us to guide and strengthen us as we experience change. For God never changes. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). Joshua reminded God’s people that they would never be forsaken by our unchanging God. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
The Rev. Jeff Harter is pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Sharon.