On June 4, 1783 at the market square of a French village of Annonay, not far from Paris, a smoky bonfire on a raised platform was fed by wet straw and old wool rags. Above the bonfire was a huge taffeta bag 33 feet in diameter, straining its tethering lines. In the presence of “a respectable assembly and a great many other people,” and accompanied by great cheering, the balloon was cut from its moorings and set free to rise majestically into the noon sky. Six thousand feet into the air it went with historic grandeur - the first public ascent of a balloon…the first step in the history of human flight. Yet, it came to earth several miles away in a field, where it was promptly attacked by pitchfork-thrusting peasants who tore it to pieces as an instrument of evil!
Change is never easy.
When the railroads were first introduced to the U.S., some folks feared that they’d be the downfall of the nation! An excerpt from a letter to then President Jackson dated January 31, 1829 read:
“As you may know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.”
Change is never easy. Yet we all face changes from time to time.
My doctoral studies were in the topic of Change Management. Virtually every “expert” agreed that the response of people to change follows a bell-curve. Responses are fairly predictable…so much that some have categorized the responses:
1. Early innovators (2.6% of the population) introduce new ideas and embrace, almost need change
2. Early adaptors (13.4%) accept change easily but rarely introduce it
3. Slow Majority (34%) will follow with a little influence
4. Reluctant Majority (34%) will follow, but need to be convinced
5. Antagonistic (16%), they will never change. They are characterized by the Duke of Cambridge who said, “Any change, at any time, for any reason, is to be deplored.”
Change is never easy. Yet without change, no significant advancement is made.
Some people will change when they see the light. Some change only when they feel the heat. Others will never change. But, guess what? Life is, like it or not, all about change, and I, for one, am looking forward to what God will do to make us a stronger, more effective church in the coming years. Yet why embrace change when the past is so comfortable?
Embracing God’s changes enable us to prepare for great things in the immediate and near future.
To discover those changes in God’s plan take, definitely, some persistent prayer and, perhaps, some trial-and-error. Jesus encourages us to “count the cost” in making our plans, yet all the while we keep one ear open for God’s still voice who might correct our path so we might be on his.
Change for the sake of change is rarely good.
Change for the sake of growth, health, or advancing the cause of Christ is always good; even when it makes us feel a little uncomfortable. Like when a family moves from one state to another with the hope of making the family’s life more of what God wants it to be, change takes us to new places, even, as Israel exemplifies, new lands. But with God at the point – looking out for trouble and leading the way, we are protected along this new path.
After all, one thing is certain, God does not change. In James 1:17 we read, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.” With God we find the certainties of life. In God we grow to be more like Jesus…and for the believer, this is the purpose of change.
Someone once said, “If you ain’t livin’, you’re dyin’!” In other words - Life is change! It's all a matter of choosing God's changes and not simply succumbing to the inevitable ones. So… change enthusiastically!, not for the sake of changing, but for the purpose of discovering and experiencing life in its fullest.
How do we embrace Change?
- Follow Jesus wherever he may lead.
- Trust Jesus for whatever his plan may be.
- Look back at God’s faithfulness in the past…it is a foreshadowing and promise of his faithfulness in the future.
- Resist the temptation of needing to control and/or understand all things. Truth is, neither is possible – though we sometimes fool ourselves into believing both are.
- Step into a new river from time to time. The new water can be wonderfully refreshing.
- Meditate on the beginning of Psalm 23 (from the New Living Translation) –
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Ironically, I know what will likely happen. Many of you will wholeheartedly try these things. Some of you will with a little encouragement. Some of you will with some convincing. And, tragically, some of you never will. But aren’t you glad that someone figured out how air and train travel were exciting and for our good?
My hope is that God will convince you to be untethered by that which encumbers you to the past so you might soar into God’s future. I’ll trust Him to do that…for you and for me, as we LIVE in the joy of Change.
Let me know what you think! - Kirk McCormick