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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Change Due

Transitions are inevitable, and navigable


By David W. Argue
Nov. 30, 2014


TO LIVE IS TO CHANGE.
TO CHANGE IS TO LIVE.

Change sometimes comes with sweeping impact (like moving from the traditional to the contemporary in a church we have long attended, from hard copy to digital in the books we enjoy). Change can also be so imperceptible as to make little difference in our lives (tiny tweaks in new designs, such as the shape and thickness of our plastic milk jugs, or taken-for-granted quality adjustments such as toothpaste with new “Mint Breath Strips”).

Whatever its felt impact, change is a constant in life.

Ever make a list of the important changes that involve you right now?

I have ... and here are a few from a longer list.

• From pastor/leader to a coach of those who are pastors and leaders.

• From living with abandon in a body that is strong and supple to lifting and bending with care.

• From a somewhat tidy family with five children to one with 11 adults and 15 grandchildren.

• From being the boss, the daily originator of complex events, to learning to follow well.

• From going as fast as possible six days a week ... to a measured pace ... “What day is it?”

• From prayer in short “emergency” bursts to long conversations with God.

• From gathering resources to tending and disbursing resources.

• From scheduled face-to-face contacts to the blizzard of 24/7 e-connections.


CHANGE HAPPENS.

The older we are and/or the more vested we feel in the change at hand, the harder it is to welcome change. We can even become a protestor against it and a defender of the “way it’s always been.”

Nonetheless, change continues to happen.    

It is simply a part of every living thing.

Individually, change is built into every cell of our body.

Get us together, and we bring change to much of our corporate life.

Now, it is all too easy to become reactive, to resist change, to want the comfort, the ease, the familiarity of things as they are, instead of embracing the newness and challenges and realities of change.

Along the way, and in the pages of God’s Word, I’ve discovered some movements of the Spirit that stabilize and enable godliness and grace in times of significant change.

Here are the three stabilizing movements of the Spirit that help me most:

• Ponder

• Flex

• Center


PONDER.

It is helpful when change is in the works, to ask: Am I reacting right now or responding? When we react, we get upset, we withdraw, we speak and act negatively. When we respond, we adjust, find replacement for sensed loss, accommodate to the change, and maintain our peace.

It is helpful to ask:

Is this change at the center of the way I live or does it call for a peripheral adjustment? Can anything be done to make up for the felt loss this change is bringing me? Is there something I can learn or some adjustment I can make that will turn this change into a push towards the light? Proverbs 4:18 reminds me that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (ESV).


FLEX.

In our home, we have an expression we use often in times of change and challenge, offering to each other as a clarifying nudge: “This is no biggie.” In other words, this change is not that significant; it does not merit getting upset, creating tensions, or losing joy.

“Get over it!” is another expression that often follows. It reminds us, when facing change, to flex and adjust.

Very few changes are so highly impactful so as to strike at the core of our function or identity in Christ. We can adjust to almost everything.

God’s answer to the prophet Jeremiah reminds all of us to keep things in perspective: “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5).

Good change is about conserving resources, releasing greater impact, stewarding energy, matching gifts to opportunities, responding creatively to culture, releasing new vision.

Change, in these dimensions, is not an enemy but a friend.


CENTER.

Hebrews 1:10-12 says: “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

God is “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

When we feel unsettled by change, we can re-anchor the center of our being by drawing nearer to our Heavenly Father.

Rather than letting change make us feel fractured, we can move toward personal stability and identity strength by soaking in His Word and inviting the presence of His Spirit to draw us close.

Let’s remember too that strong openhearted relationships with others on the journey with Christ do a lot to quiet the challenging winds and trends and remind the soul of what really matters.

Challenged by change?

 • Ponder.

 • Flex.

 • Center.

On a recent trip to Turkey, I visited the Hagia Sophia — one of the largest church structures ever built. Located in the vast city of Istanbul, its great dome dominates the skyline. I was surprised to discover that for over 900 years this structure facilitated the gatherings and discourse of the Early Church. It was a key center of Christianity.

Then, change came. For 481 years this landmark church was used by Muslims ... the four minarets on the corners built to visibly attest to that change.

In 1935 it became a center for tourism, and is today one of the main attractions of that city. Hundreds were present as we walked the hallways and gathering places within.

In domes and high arches the depictions of Christ and His Church remain. Now being carefully restored to their original beauty, having been covered for years by a coat of plaster. Some of the earliest depictions of Christ and His apostles have returned to speak powerfully to all who visit.

Truly, Christ our Lord stands above all time, and all the changes that come.

The Lord is our rock, our firm foundation, our cornerstone — He is forever unchanging in those and countless other eternal qualities. (See Psalm 18:1,2).

As we hold ever more closely to Him, our changes fall under the loving shadow of His eternal constancy.


DAVID W. ARGUE is a former Assemblies of God executive presbyter and an author, ministry coach, and pastor-at-large living in Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

 

 

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