Of many things that will happen to most of us this new year, there is one fact that is both scary and extremely hopeful — and it all bowls down to one word: CHANGE. Many things will take place in your life over the next 12 months, but change is one of those things that we can pretty much count on. By this time next year, we will all be able to look back and point to relationships, situations, perspectives and conditions that are not as they were on 01/01/14. Like it or not, expect it or not, change is coming for all of us.
Change can be scary, especially when it comes without prior notice. It is one thing to make a new year’s resolution and intentionally pursue something new. But often, change is thrust upon us without our permission. In fact, many of us put a ton of work and energy into making sure things do not change. So when the transition comes, we sometimes ignore it, other times deny it, and even wish (or better pray) the change away. Change is probably the scariest fact of 2014 for many of us. I feel your pain.
But…change can also be the most hopeful fact of 2014, particularly for people who trust Jesus with their lives. I remember hearing the late Dallas Willard say something like this: “your life is much more in front of you than it is behind you.” I also remember hearing Bobbie Houston translate Proverbs 31:25b like this: “she smiles at the future”. And there is the ever inspiring text in Hebrews 12 where Jesus endured the suffering and shame of the cross because of the joy set before him. Change is usually the precondition for renewal, revival and restoration. Change ushers in fresh options. Yes, change is scary, but it reminds of that there is potential for more.
Change comes to prune, because there is more fruit that can be produced. Change forces us to let go of certain things so that we have room to receive the new things. Change comes to discipline and challenge us so that we have the stamina needed for tomorrow’s opportunities. Change is a part of nature and what it means to be alive. Change is the primary way God matures us spiritually and emotionally.
I have to tell you — avoiding change can be dangerous. Why? Without change, you will never know what you are made of and made for. If you ignore the coming changes, you risk missing out on answers to prayers. Denying that change is coming places you in an imaginary world and life can move on without you even knowing it. Wishing change away wastes energy because change will happen whether you want it to or not.
At the end of 2014, I want to say before God, my family, friends, colleagues and community that I greeted the future and all the changes that were coming. I want to say that, in faith, I trusted that Jesus was going to work all things out for my good as things changed around me. I want to say that I did not waste energy trying to hold on to the way things are instead of smiling at the way things were growing, evolving and transforming around me. This is my prayer for 2014.
And it is my prayer for you as well. May we all smile at the change that 2014 will bring us — knowing that despite the changes, nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.