I feel like recently my life can be compared to riding on a roller coaster. It’s a thrill of a lifetime, but you’re white knuckled, holding on for dear life as you wait for the next turn, dip, or drop. When the ride is over there’s a feeling of euphoria, but also a “let down” literally that you survived. Roller coaster cities like Cedar Point or King’s Island in Cincinnati are places you visit; thank God they’re not permanent dwellings. So it is with life. There are the roller coaster ups and downs, but most of life is spent in spaces and places where our heart beat is steady, and our feet are planted on solid ground.
Life is at the same time both constant and ever changing. Someone has said the only ones that like to “be changed” are babies, and even they cry during the ordeal. I came from a church tradition that used the scripture, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,” as an argument that the Church should not change its way of “doing church.” And forget about letting go of those traditional “sacred cows” that had died decades ago. Our view was that it was the liberal churches that were sliding down the slippery slope of change by caving into the culture.
It’s true that the message of the gospel must always be Christ and the Cross, but the manner or method we use to communicate those precious truths must change to remain relevant to a changing culture. I was pressing this truth while preaching as a guest speaker at the invitation of a group of pastors. In the message, I used the story from the book of Nehemiah about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after they had been destroyed. I shared that the methods and materials that Nehemiah used to rebuild the walls in his day were different than what was used the first time the walls were constructed. Over time tools and methods improve and become more effective. We see this today with changing technology, and in Nehemiah’s case, this change and improvement was helpful in rebuilding the walls that had be ravaged by war. Perhaps Nehemiah had to contend with those infamous words, “We’ve never done it before,” when he tried new tools and techniques to make the wall more secure and attractive.
It’s always a little surprising to me how little some big people can be when it comes to anything that’s different. Someone has said you can measure the size of a person by what it takes to get them upset. I’ve had grown adults in their senior years of life act like toddlers when I asked the congregation something as simple as moving up a few pews because we were scattered all over, and the crowd was small. A woman, whose name ironically was Grace, yelled at me from her smelly pew. (How’d you like that play on words, which is also a good way to describe her attitude?) I had another member who left the church because they didn’t get a $25 Christmas bonus for playing the piano as a ministry; at least I thought it was their ministry.
Change does move us from our comfort zone and sometimes forces us to try new things or ways of doing a task. Let’s be honest and admit that once we pass the learning curve, we would never go back to the old way. Here’s a personal example. Janna and I engaged in a very intense conversation when I discovered she had moved me from my Android phone to an iPhone. My grandchildren told me, “Papa, if you will just try it you will be glad you did.” They were right, and I’m glad I made the switch. And Janna, as much as I hate to say it, “I was wrong and you were right.”
So, here’s my question for you this week. What change does God want to bring in your life that perhaps, like me, you’re resisting? It may be a change in career, eating habits, or something that is so personal only you and God know. My challenge is to give it a try and see if perhaps God is setting you up for something better. Some of the changes I’m going through are stretching me, but like a muscle, we need to be stretched so that we remain flexible to the changes that our unchanging God has for us. Yes, sometimes it’s painful, but it keeps us in “discipleshape.” One more thing. I know some people like to raise their hands when riding a roller coaster, but my advice is the opposite. As you navigate the twists and turns of this world, hold on for dear life to your anchor, your foundation. Hold on to Jesus!