The Challenge of Change
“Constant change is here to stay”. I am not sure who said this first, but I am sure it is true. We see it in our own physical bodies as we grow - for example, your skin regenerates itself every month! In nature and life, there are different seasons - we are on the threshold of an amazing change from winter into spring, with new life blossoming everywhere.
Fifty years ago, two American psychiatrists came up with what they called the Life Change Index Scale, which scored the stress impact of different life changing events such as bereavement, relational breakdown, work change, retirement all the way down to taking a holiday and Christmas approaching! One of the main obstacles to facing the challenge of constant change, is our natural tendency for inertia, resisting it because it can be uncomfortable. It upends our comfort levels and can leave us feeling insecure, stressed out and even afraid.
If change is here to stay, how can we have the right attitude and see it as an opportunity not a threat and bring faith not fear to the ongoing challenge of change? William Pollard, a 19th century clergyman, said – “Without change there is no innovation, creativity or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
What can the bible teach us about how to handle change well and even embrace and welcome it?
God and his word do not change
“I am the Lord, and I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13: 8) - there is one who does not change, who walks with us in every season of life—no matter how easy or difficult. Also, we can build our lives on God’s word, because its truth is changeless. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mark 13:31)
God wants us to change
To be saved we need to repent (literally change our mind), turn away from our old life of sin, selfishness and rebellion and turn towards God for forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and purpose. In that moment, we are transformed and have a total new identity in Christ – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) Beyond our initial repentance, God wants us to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2) and progressively changed to be more like Jesus - “And we all… are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, ” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
God knows the plans he has for us and we can trust him to guide us through change
When Ann and I relocated to serve the church in Izmir for 18 months, it was a massive change for us – new culture, language, food, church community and whole way of life. What helped us was God’s clear call to us through apostolic leadership and prophetic words and, as we arrived, a wonderful sense that God had gone ahead of us to prepare the ground. We learnt so many lessons about trusting God – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5-6)
God is with us as we face and walk through change
“God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5). It is helpful to remember this as we face transition in the Coign as Malcolm retires and Steve joins us as our new lead elder. He will also guide us as a church within the Commission family to play our part in the vision “to see thousands of lives transformed through hundreds of churches in tens of nations.”
So, one thing is certain - constant change is here to stay. However, another thing is more important and certain: God is faithful; he loves us with undying love, helps us to face the future with faith, hope and expectation and is well able to work all of life’s changes together for good. (Romans 8:28)