It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird. It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. -CS Lewis
My co-worker, Ashley, is leaving us. She is following Christ into a new season. This is will bring change and my last two years have been full of change. In September 2013, I began a new job, working along side and beneath the authority of 2 friends who both then left 4 months into that new job and handed me much more responsibility than I’d anticipated so early on. And,of course, I lead differently than they did. Then we hired Ashley and a couple months following that, we brought on Ron, our new director. A few months later, I moved from the house I’ve lived in for 4 years to an apartment in Kingwood. Now, we are saying good-bye to Ashley and in a couple months or so, someone new will join the staff (maybe…hopefully). I have experienced a lot of change in the last two years. And I have ushered in change for others in the last two years. Change is hard. Change is exciting. Change is inevitible. And change is good.
I learned awhile ago of a podcast called radiolab. They ask these philosophical questions that relate to science or folk lore and then meet with experts to try to unravel the mysteries. While it isn’t a Christian podcast and they usually scoff at the idea of God, they almost always end with no answers, only awe. One episode I listened to recently was called “Goo and you”. It was about the change of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
They were wondering what happens inside a chrysalis. So the expert sliced one open a couple of days after the caterpillar had finished building his cocoon. Inside, there was no longer a caterpillar. There was nothing but a yellow goo. The caterpillar, it turns out dissolves during this change. No more legs, no organs, just goo. And as I listened, I thought, “That is sometimes what change feels like”. We know what we are going into the change, but once we get all wrapped up in a season of change, sometimes we just feel like goo. No structure. No foundation. Life feels a mess. And somehow, like the caterpillar goo, this messy soup of change, produces something new and beautiful.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. -Alan Watts
But this change, isn’t complete death of everything old. They discovered that there is some memory preserved. So there is something, core to the creature that survives. And for us, too. As God gives us vision, that vision will go through changes. And in those changes we find moments when it feels like everything we thought was going to be, is dissolving and there is nothing left. But in fact, if God is in the change, the core of the vision is preserved, even if the structure is completely new.
And wait, there’s one more magnificent truth we can see in the creature. The expert also pointed out something else, just beneath the skin of a caterpillar… before it’s even begun the process of change is the structure for a butterfly. Very thin, transparent, not fully formed, but there, waiting for the moment to become what it is fully intended to be. And somehow these thin little pieces of the future survive the goo of the change. And again, I believe this is how God creates vision in us. He gives us vision and begins to form it from the beginning, but we cannot see it. It’s there. It may be very fragile, but if it is a creation of Yahweh, then it will survive every change that comes. When the rest of it dissolves, the structure of what is meant to be, is actually becoming reality.
It’s amazing to me that one little creature can teach us so much about God and his design for our growth and the growth of His Kingdom purposes.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them-that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. — Lao Tzu
I want to turn now to scripture. Because as much as we can learn by looking at the world God created, it is more important to look to His Word. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
And Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So, while we may not always get to choose when or how things change, we always have a choice of where to position ourselves in change.
The reason that there is no shadow due to change in God is because He is the source of light. Just like the sun lights up the earth. The sun has no shadow, only the things it shines on can have shadows. If my back is to the sun, then all I will see are shadows. My path cannot be fully lit up when I stand with my back to the sun. Shadows will darken the path. But, if I turn my face to the sun, the shadows will still be there, but now my path is not blocked by them. Now, everything is lit up and I can see what is really before me more clearly.
There is an old hymn that says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
When we turn our faces toward Christ, it will not stop circumstances from changing. But, The Light of the glory of Christ will give us proper perspective and it will illuminate the path through the changes. But how do we practically turn our faces to the sun?
The Thessalonians were wanting to know how they were supposed to be living in the space of the already and not yet. Christ had come and brought salvation, but he also said he would return, and they wanted to know how to navigate the in between time. I think Paul’s instruction applies to us as we navigate change as well. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-23, this is what he says,
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how do you prepare for change and how do you navigate it when it comes?
You look to Christ by
- respecting one another and submitting to your leadership
- seek peace in your relationships here
- correct each other when you get lazy
- encourage each other when you get tired
- help each other learn when there is a weak place
- be patient in all of it
- be kind
- rejoice always
- pray in every moment
- look for reasons to be grateful rather than to grumble
- if the Lord is doing something among you, don’t distract from it
- hold up every decision to The Word of God to see if it is right
- And believe, that if Jesus really did conquer death, and he has called you to something, He will do it. If he really rose from the dead, than nothing is impossible for him. And he has laid out visions, plans, purposes for us as individuals and as a ministry family. So even when changes come, He is faithful and He will accomplish the things He has called us to.
Remember, we can’t control when and how change comes, but we can control where we position ourselves in the midst of the change.
What changes are you facing these days? Are you practicing turning your face toward Jesus? Try intentionally doing some of the things listed above and see if you find walking through the changes a bit easier.