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Reflection: Embracing Change

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As my pastor often says, “change is the only constant in life.”

People change.

Styles change.

Circumstances change.

Life is full of surprises. How we handle them is up to us.

In Matthew 17, in a high mountain, with only Peter, James, and John as witnesses, Jesus is transfigured. His face shines like the sun, his clothes become as white as light, and Moses and Elijah, who have both been dead for centuries, appear, and are talking with Jesus. Then God, speaking from behind a cloud says “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5 NIV)

Not surprisingly, Peter, James, and John fall, facedown to the ground, terrified.

And Jesus tells them to get up, and not be afraid, but also not to tell anyone what they have seen, until he has been raised from the dead.

And then they have to go back to their regular lives.

Granted, their regular lives are pretty unusual.

Jesus keeps performing miracles, like healing a demon possessed boy (Matthew 17: 14-21)

He keeps making confusing predictions like saying that he will be apprehended, killed, and then raised to life (Matthew 17:22-23)

He keeps giving transformative teaching, like arguing that the children are exempt from the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27), or explaining that the greatest in heaven must be trusting and lowly like a small child (Matthew 18:1-6), or teaching that God is happier finding one lost soul than watching 99 that have never been lost (Matthew 18:10-14).

As supernatural moments go, however, seeing your teacher turn into a ghost, and then hearing God personally vouch for him, has got to fall somewhere between mind-blowing and traumatizing. They don’t get to share with the other disciples. We don’t see them talking with each other. They may not even get to process by themselves.

They just move on to the next.

It’s how many of us do life.

We may not be seeing our friends light up and hearing God talk, but we experience things that excite, confuse, or frighten us, and we keep it moving. We experience things that change us, and then try to nonchalantly act as if nothing happened.

In today’s devotional reading from The Language of Letting Go: “Accepting Change,” Melody Beattie reminds us that as much as we, at times, want or even need to catch our breath, “change is inevitable, and desirable”

Sometimes, when the winds of change begin to rustle, we're not certain the change is for the better. We may call it stress or a temporary condition, certain we'll be restored to normal. Sometimes, we resist. We tuck our head down and buck the wind, hoping that things will quickly calm down, get back to the way things were. Is it possible we're being prepared for a new normal?”

Change can be uncomfortable. We need to be careful, though, of our preference for “normal.”

If Peter, James, and John had insisted on “normal”, they would likely have bailed on a mission that carried inherent uncertainty. If that had occurred:

  1. They would not have seen the resurrection.
  2. They would not have learned about their own limitations, and God’s ability to be glorified through them.
  3. They would not have been part of the apostolic revolution chronicled in the Book of Acts: the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit and explosive growth of the church.

Our “normal” may be outdated. It may have worked twenty years ago but is no longer relevant today. I used to consider my book of city maps absolutely priceless, but I haven’t used a paper map in 15 years.

Our “normal” may keep from growing. It may be a relic from our youth, a way we carried ourselves in bygone times that became our signature. Our rules for high school, however, may not serve us anymore.

Normal provides a stable reference point. Sometimes, however, you need to move.

My pastor often says, “when change is necessary, not to change is destructive.”

The Apostle Paul, In his 1 Corinthians 13 essay on love, says “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor. 11:11 NLT).

Many of us need to change the way we do relationships. It’s hurting us and the people we claim to love.

Some of us need to change the way we communicate. It leaves the people around us frustrated and confused.

Normal works some of the time.

Today, however, I pray that we would courageously interrogate our “normal.”

Today, I pray we grow up.

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

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