“I wish things would just slow down.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought this. Looking back at the last few months of my life, I’ve just been going and going and going. Change after change has flown in my face from my job to school to hobbies to relationships – it’s completely insane. And, whether you are in a season of change or not, I think we can all relate to feeling rushed and afraid at the idea of too much change at some point in our lives. It’s scary when things get so out of your control that change is inevitable and you can’t dictate major parts of your life – or maybe you can, but still, changes are utterly overwhelming.
I can relate (especially right now). So, let’s talk about it.
First, I want to point out what change can cause – bitterness or bettering.
When change comes knocking at the door, we can choose fear, ducking behind our insecurities and desire for control, and allow resistance of change to grow and cause bitterness. Or, the much more fruitful option (I know from experience) would be to allow even the most unexpected, heart-wrenching, life-shattering change to better you in the long run. To grow you.
Because the unfortunate reality of the world we live in is that we will face unwanted change at some point or another, and the difference between becoming bitter and growing is how you let the change affect your heart.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more…. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4)
This verse has a lot to say in looking at the concept of change because not only doesn’t it point out a necessity for change (or, pruning, in this case) when there isn’t a lot of fruit, but it addresses the fact that change can be painful. Being pruned and refined is not a comfortable place to be, but it is a necessary one. God allows the pruning process because He knows our full potential, but He’s not the one who is going to fulfill it for us. He gives us the tools, and He works on us, but our response has the opportunity to inspire the growth He knows is possible through the hardship or inspire bitterness and resentment towards people or situations. Bitterness that can last a lifetime. Choosing bitterness not only makes you miserable, but it creates a block with God – not one that He put there, but one that we did. He wants to talk to us, to be with us, but the gigantic bitterness bubble we’ve effectively surrounded ourselves with is preventing our potential from blooming in the fullness in which God wants us to live.
He wants our attention because He wants to point us to the abundant life He wants us to be living in so that we can fully embrace the gifts He’s given us on earth. And sometimes He allows us to walk through less-than-ideal situations because the prosperous outcomes of seemingly hopeless situations will be worth the pain when we get there.
Every broken relationship, idea, and dream has left me in a place where I can either choose bitterness or growth, and every time I’ve chosen to fight against bitterness and cling to becoming more fruitful by the power of His hand, I can look back at the greatest pains I’ve walked through and say yes and amen to all of His promises because He was faithful to work when I didn’t know how to handle the change. All I have to do is submit to growth, and He does the rest. I press in and He pursues my life with His healing hand in the midst of my grief and uncertainty because He is faithful to the end, and that will never change!
I’ve been reminded recently of the story of the prophet Elijah – talk about walking through some painful change. He went from being a powerful conduit of God working – a spiritual high if there ever was one – to fleeing for his life and wanting to die from the extensive pain he was experiencing. The intensity of change for him, not only situationally but internally, is mindboggling.
But God met him.
After a long journey to Mount Sinai, the Lord meets him and twice asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
What are you doing here?
What have you run from in fear? What change have you closed yourself off to? Why are you trying so hard to force your will?
Why am I doing all of these things?
Because the root of fear of change is fear of losing control.
I’m afraid to let things out of my hands into hands much more qualified to craft my life. It’s as if I don’t trust Him, but it’s something I’m learning more about every day. To trust Him more, to know Him better.
Because change, no matter how hard, doesn’t have to be a worst-case scenario. In fact, change opens new avenues for God to work in a new way. With each season, God reveals different parts about Himself to us, and that is truly amazing.
In all of the change and fear, where do you find yourself? Because God wants so badly to meet you, and maybe you’re having trouble hearing Him or knowing how to come into His presence – in that case, just sit and rest. Breathe. Open your Bible. Sing to Him. Just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean His love has changed (because it hasn’t). He loves us more than we could possibly imagine, and even if we don’t understand it or feel it how we would like to, there is never a moment wasted that has been used to engage with the Creator of the universe.
Change is hard. Change usually sucks. But God works powerfully in the midst of it.
And as you’re walking through times of change and uncertainty, remember – growth in pain is much better than bitterness. Both have lasting effects, and one is fruitful and one is not. When God seems far away and the change is too much to bear, remember this:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?… Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” (Psalm 27: 1;3)
At the very center of our greatest storms and struggles, He is there. He is here in the midst of your chaos, when the change is too great and the pain is too real. He is here, He is here, He is here. His nail-scarred hands aren’t just a reminder that He died to save us but that He lives as the conqueror of death. He can handle our fear and uncertainty – He can handle the change.