Change is the only constant
Who said those words? Whoever they were might have been taking a peek at my life in recent years, as I’m sure many of you reading will also recognise that in your own life!
It almost seems crazy to be writing about something so commonplace but I wanted to do this for myself as much as anything else. To record events and the things God has been saying as well as offering explanation.
Four years ago my world tilted on its axis and threatened to de-rail completely at the diagnosis of cancer. I know many of you will recognise this sort of experience and I’ve written about it elsewhere so suffice to say: it was a ‘Kairos’ moment, a true turning point around which so much of the rest of life revolves.
By the grace of God, despite wobbles and dark pits, despite the distinct sensation at times of being on a rollercoaster; in the dark; with a full stomach; and no sign of the end, all is well! However, nothing is the same. Shortly after the cancer episode I was in a prayer meeting and saw a picture of a huge wall of brambles and thicket, right in front of me. My feet were standing on a path and the path disappeared into the thicket. It was like that scene from many a movie where the protagonists are standing facing the seeming impossible and turn to each other saying: Are we going in there? Yes, it looks like we’re going in there! I prayed ‘Lord, give us a torch and a sharp axe’.
Two years later my colleague and I were out of work after obeying God and working with the trustees to close down the charity we worked for. In those intervening years these verses became my mantra:
Isaiah 43: The Message (MSG)
16-19 This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
As a team we were assured that God was leading us onward with a sense of him tapping our shoulder and whispering in our ears: I want to do things differently. I walked into another job locally, again grace went before me. One thing I know for absolute sure is that God works in mysterious ways!
But still the sense of everything changing stayed with me – a friends shared a picture of being called to step out of the shallows/reed beds and into the full flow of the rushing river and I felt God’s prompting: you too.
I even read a book called Everything Must Change, which turned my individualistic faith inside out and upside down! In it Brian McLaren takes the reader through the impact of the Gospel of Jesus on global politics and I was blown away by this whole concept. In a rare engagement with my political leaders I sent a copy to David Cameron. Two years later and Cameron begins, out of the blue so it seems, to want to identify himself with Christianity and encourage Christians to be more prominent in their own communities. I’m slightly scared about the potential link between these two events!!
A year ago the passage in Numbers 20 came up in a prayer meeting and really stuck with me. God tells Moses to do something completely ridiculous (speak to the rock) in order to see the miraculous (water out of it). Moses doesn’t do what God asks and because of that he doesn’t get to see the Promised Land. Wow.
A friend told me that God wanted me to know that as I was about to undergo physical surgery so he would do spiritual surgery. So, huge, painful change on the horizon then!
The just a month or so ago a friend told me about the story of Elijah and King Ahab from 1 Kings 17. God tells Elijah to pass on a message to Ahab and then to run away to a brook. When the brook dries up God tells Elijah to go down to Zarephath where he will find a widow and her son who he is to help. In this story, if Elijah had stayed at the brook he’d have shrivelled up and died due to a lack of water. And in obeying God and moving on he had the opportunity to be the miraculous solution to someone else’s problem.
So we’ve had a major change: leaving our church community with God’s voice drawing us on and ringing in our ears. And I’ve realised that it really is true that change is uncomfortable, the process of change is an uncomfortable place to be in, and that in order to initiate change one has to be certain of hearing God’s voice in order to move forward!
If indeed Everything MUST Change then that has implications which outstrip our own understanding and experience. I saw a Richard Branson quote which said “If people aren’t calling you crazy, you aren’t thinking big enough.”
I want to leave behind the tendency to stay in the shallows, looking with envy and trepidation at those in the fast flowing waters. God is calling me out of the old and into something very new and terrifyingly exciting.
How about you?
PS The Change quote is from Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 BC – 475 BC) was a Greek philosopher, known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe. So he definitely wasn’t looking at my life!!
Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Heraclitus accessed 19th July 2014