How do you stop being afraid of change?

Do you live a steady, predictable life? I know a lot of people who do. Even in my own life (which has its tumultuous times), there is some comfort in routine. It’s nice to get up and know exactly what you’re going to do, exactly when you’re going to do it, and exactly how you’re going to do it.

You don’t face challenges. You don’t face uncertainties. You don’t have to worry that you’ll encounter an obstacle you can’t overcome because you’ve faced it all before. And while that’s nice in many ways, you never grow.

Routine is a blessing at times, but when you get stuck in it, routine can do more damage than good. But that doesn’t make facing a rapidly changing world any easier. And believe me, your life is going to change. Even if you stick to the same old routine for as long as you can, something always changes. And when that moment comes, if you aren’t ready for it, you’ll be swept away.

A mountain on the hike to Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

A mountain on the hike to Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Isaiah 26:4.

Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Change is a part of life, and the best way to get through it is to base your life on something that doesn’t change. It’s like building a structure on a good foundation. If your foundation shifts and moves, your structure won’t be able to withstand the storms that beat against it.

So what does that look like in the life of a Christ follower? Well, there’s a reason God is called a Rock throughout the whole Bible. Rocks are big and strong and they last a long time. God, in this verse, is called an eternal rock.

A big, solid, strong rock that isn’t going anywhere. He won’t change. He won’t alter His course. He won’t fail when you need Him. If you have that certainty in your life, you can face any change that comes at you. But what does that look like? Because you can talk about building your life on the solid rock all day long and still have no idea what it means.

Making God your rock means that you stop relying on your own strength to get you through difficult times. The change that’s coming for you? That situation you don’t know how you’re going to handle? You don’t have to face it by yourself, and you don’t have to handle it in your own strength. God is offering you His strength, and all you have to do is accept it.

But to accept it, you have to be willing to do things God’s way. You can use a chainsaw all you like, but it won’t do you any real good until you plug it into a power source. It’s the same way with God.

God has given you resources and all sorts of tools in order to live your life, but if you insist on doing things your own way, you’re going to keep bashing your head against a wall.

The idea of change can be scary, but if you are firmly grounded in what God says is right, you can stand up to any challenge. There’s nothing life can throw at you that is bigger than God.

So don’t be afraid of change. Change is going to happen for good or for bad, and if you run away from it, you’ll stay a child your entire life and you’ll live a childish faith.

Embrace routine while you have it. It can be a blessing. But embrace change too because it’s in the moments of change in our lives that we learn how much like a Rock God really is.

Snow on the front yard cedar at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

It’s all part of the plan

Isn’t it strange how plans can change? At the drop of a hat, in the blink of an eye, your plans can turn on their head. And suddenly everything you thought was certain isn’t so certain anymore.

I planned to go to work this week, but most of this week I’ve spent at home. Working from home, yes, but it wasn’t what I had planned. I planned to have a meeting with a friend about drama on Wednesday, and that didn’t happen. And I have plans to eat dinner with friends tonight, but if I still can’t get out of my driveway by the end of the afternoon, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Plans change because we have very little control over the big moments of our lives. The only control we have is how we react when inevitable change smacks us upside the head.

Snow on the front yard cedar at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Snow on the front yard cedar at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Numbers 23:19.

God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Our lives change all the time, mainly because we don’t understand our lives. If we could see our lives like God sees them, I think we’d get a different perspective on who we are and what our purpose is here.

God doesn’t change, so His plans don’t change either. His plans for us are the same today as they were when He build the foundations of the universe.

What we have to wrap our heads around practically speaking is the fact that even though our plans have changed, we don’t have to freak out about it. Because God’s plan is the same. Everything that happens to us is all part of the plan. There’s nothing that happens to us in our everyday lives–or even on extraordinary days–that God can’t fit in to the masterpiece that is the story of our universe.

Look back over Scripture. Can you find a time where God let someone down? Now, I’m not talking about a time when someone was disappointed. Or a time when someone thought God had abandoned them. Those times are all over the place, but those times are none of God’s doing. Those times are people giving up on God and choosing to strike out on their own.

Throughout the length and breadth of human history, God has never once let anyone down. He hasn’t once turned His back on us. He hasn’t once given up on us, although we give up on Him all the time. Every promise He’s made, He will keep. There are some outstanding, yes, but the fulfillment of those will change everything and the longer He waits, the longer the people of our world have to get their heads on straight. So I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.

Don’t give up on God. When your plans don’t work out the way you think they will, don’t throw your hands in the air and decide that God has abandoned you. When you don’t get to do what you wanted to do, don’t decide that God is determined to squash you or that He’s up in heaven looking for a way to make your life more difficult. That’s not the case at all.

God has a plan. It’s a good plan, and He will keep His promises. So when change happens (and it always always does), don’t freak out about it. When you find yourself face to face with events and circumstances that you can’t control (like a driveway full of snow and subzero temps that make shoveling practically impossible), don’t decide that God has left you to figure everything out on your own. That’s not the way He works.

God has a plan, and it’s big enough to include the unexpected changes you’re going to encounter. So keep holding on to God. It won’t be easy. And understand that change isn’t something that bothers Him because He knew it was coming, and that has to make it easier for us to deal with. If He knew it was coming, He knows what we need to make it through.

Sunflowers in bloom at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God knows how our lives are going to change

Summer has finally arrived in Kansas. It took a while, but it made it at last. Usually we have summer in July and August, so it’s running late this year. Now the question is how long will it stay? One thing you can always count on in Kansas is that the weather won’t stay the same. That’s what we always say to folks who complain that it’s too hot or that it’s too cold: “Just wait a day or so. It will change.”

But it isn’t just the seasons that are changing. Everything is changing. My entire family is teetering on the edge of a really massive season of change in all our lives. And it’s all good. But it’s certainly going to change a lot of things.

The biggest example is my mom’s job. Due to her current health situation, she’s had to start working from home, and it’s not likely she’ll ever go back in the same capacity as she used to be. We all knew it was coming, but now that it’s here, it feels like it sneaked up on us. Last week I helped her clean out her office at church, and I was surprised how sad I was. It’s not like I didn’t expect it, but I was still sad to see the day arrive.

Everything changes. Nothing about us stays the same over the course of our lives. And the only way to make it through with your sanity somewhat intact is to hold on to something that doesn’t change, because then no matter what else turns upside-down you’ll still have a solid place to stand.

Sunflowers in bloom at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunflowers in bloom at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Malachi 3:6.

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

God doesn’t change. Ever. He’s the same as He was when He created everything. He’s the same God who saved Noah and his family, the same God who brought Israel safely out of Egypt, the same God who helped Joseph interpret dreams and David write songs.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around that the God I have conversations with every day is the same God who formed the universe out of nothing. It’s hard to believe that a God that powerful would care, but the Bible says He does, so I believe it.

This post isn’t long today. It’s mainly just a remainder . I did a whole month’s worth of posts on change toward the beginning of the year as I was preparing for my best friend to leave for England, but I needed to remember today that God is the same now as He was then. When I’m facing all of these upheavals in life, good and bad, I need to remember that God stays constant.

The seasons don’t shake Him. Our actions don’t surprise Him. And even when it feels like everything is spinning out of control, He still knows what He’s doing. He hasn’t lost control. He hasn’t abandoned us. If He didn’t abandon Israel, He won’t abandon us either. He promised He wouldn’t, and He always keeps His promises.

So whatever change you’re facing today, just remember that everything about you and around you can turn over on its head and God will still be the same. That’s comforting to me. That helps me face the upcoming changes in my life with courage and confident hope that He already has it settled. I may not know what’s coming, but He does. He’s preparing me, and with His help there’s nothing I can’t conquer.

Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes from the Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Wardrobe malfunctions don’t impress God

How do you demonstrate that you’ve changed? How do you show that you’ve become a different person? It’s difficult to do in some cases because so many times a heart change isn’t visible from the outside. If your heart changes–well, you still look the same. That’s what’s difficult about change; most of the time you have to take people’s word that they have.

Like an apology. How do you know it’s sincere? It’s not like you can judge by how many tears somebody cries or how much their voice wavers when they speak because every person is different. Well, until someone’s actions prove their words are sincere, you can’t really tell if an apology was real. Until you get to see how someone has changed, you won’t really know that the change was real, no matter if they claim it was or not. Granted, I believe we’re supposed to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But God knows what’s real and what isn’t.

Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes from the Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes from the Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Joel 2:12-13.

That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.

In the culture of the Old Testament, it was common to tear your own clothing when you were mourning. It was a symbol of intense grief. So if you’re ever reading the Bible and someone in the Old Testament starts tearing their clothes, they’re not having a wardrobe malfunction. They’re demonstrating repentance. They’re showing how sorry they are for something or how upset they are about something.

Well, I’m sure it started out as a way for a very passionate culture to show their hearts to other people, but as time passed, it became a symbol like any other symbol. It developed its own meaning in the culture, and all you’d have to do is tear your clothes and everyone would think that you were sorry for what you’ve done–whether you really were or not.

Kind of like our own culture. Do something wrong, and call a press conference to offer a tearful apology. Do something wrong, and agree to go on a famous talk show and tell your side of the story. Do something wrong and write a book about it. And most of the time, our culture buys it. Why? Well, they stood up and said they were sorry. And we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, and that’s good.

But it’s not about telling the culture that you’re sorry. The point of apologizing for something you did wrong isn’t to show the world that you made a mistake. I mean, that’s an important part of it. To tell the truth. But that’s not the main point. The main point of apologizing for your actions when you have done wrong is to tell God. It’s to come before Almighty God and admit to Him that what you did was wrong and that you repent, that you are sorry, that you won’t do it again, and that you need His help.

And God knows if you’re just tearing your clothes.

He can see our hearts. He knows our motivation. He knows. So trying to put on a show for Him doesn’t work. He’s not interested if it isn’t real.

That’s what these verses mean. Don’t tear your clothes; tear your heart instead. If you’ve done wrong, be sorry. Don’t just offer Him a half-hearted apology that doesn’t affect you. If you’ve done wrong (and everyone has), be sorry and change your mind about what you did. That’s the difference. You can be sorry about what you did all day long, but until you change your mind about it, it won’t have the effect you’re hoping for. And this is true for any sin. Big sins. Little sins. All sins.

You have to examine your own life and your own actions, and you have to compare them (not to each other) but to Scripture. Is what you did wrong according to the Bible and the way God says to live? If it is wrong by that standard, you have sinned.

Guess what? So have I! And I hate it. As a perfectionistic, performance-driven person, I hate the things I do that don’t match up to God’s Word. I get so frustrated with myself because I want to be perfect, but I can’t be. And God knows that. But that doesn’t mean I can give up and live however I want and lead others to live however they want. That just means I won’t be perfect, and God is going to pick me up again when I fall.

This month has been about change. It’s what I’ve been studying. And the one facet of change that I keep coming back to is that real heart change is impossible without God. And honestly, a real change of mind is impossible without God and without the Bible. But the first step of reaching that real change of mind is ours. It’s our choice. It’s up to us to look at what God says is right and judge our actions by that standard, and if we find something wrong in our lives, we need to change our minds about it. And then we need to apply Scripture in our lives, and before you know it, your heart will change too.

So make a choice. Change your mind, and God will change your heart. He doesn’t care how sorry you look or how sorry you feel. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t intend to change, and if all you’ve done is put on a good show, maybe you’ll have people fooled, but as far as God is concerned, you’ll just have a ripped up shirt.

Sunrise behind the hedgerow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

People don’t change; God changes people

I like rules. I’m sorry to admit it, but I do. And as much as I love spontaneity, I love structure. I prefer organization to chaos, even though my version of organization looks pretty chaotic. And all of it fits very snugly with my performance-driven mentality, where I feel like I have to reach a certain standard or expectation before I can consider myself successful.

Rules aren’t bad. They’re necessary, but if you love them too much, they can become a hiding place. They can become something you use to stop challenging yourself, the reason why you quit trying to grow. What I’ve learned about change in general is that when you’re talking about life, it doesn’t need help changing. Life changes on its own. We don’t need to prod it or persuade it into changing course; it manages by itself. But when you’re talking about changing a person, that doesn’t happen just by deciding. If you want to change, you need help. You need someone to walk you through the process, and, in that process, rules can either help or hinder.

The trouble with rules is that they usually do go hand-in-hand with a performance-based mentality. If you keep the rules, that means you’re a good person. If you obey the law, that means you’re good enough. Well, that’s not what Scripture says. What I’ve learned about rules and law is that while they are both important, obeying them doesn’t improve you. Obeying the law and obeying the rules doesn’t make you a good person; they just make you someone who obeys.

Sunrise behind the hedgerow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunrise behind the hedgerow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 3:18.

 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

This verse comes out of a larger passage where Paul is writing (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to the Church at Corinth. Talk about a screwed up church. Corinth was a mess. And in his first letter to them (1 Corinthians), Paul really let them have it. But this is 2 Corinthians, his second letter, and he’s far gentler this time around. Still firm, but not as harsh. And what this passage is talking about is the difference between the old way of believing and the new way of believing (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).

You should really read the passage, but I’m going to summarize. What Paul is doing in this passage is comparing the Old Way (with the Law and the sacrifices) to the New Way (with the Holy Spirit). What he’s saying is the New Way is better. Far better. Why? Well, the Old Way was good. The Old Way was still amazing because it was something God had given the people so that they knew how to live. But the Old Way led to death; the Old Way required constant sacrifice. The New Way, salvation through faith in Christ, means we don’t have a rulebook to follow; we just believe.

But the trouble with rules is that they dull your mind. If you get it in your head that the rules are what matters, you stop thinking, because the rules never change. And if you’re not careful, the rules can become the reasoning you will use to prevent yourself from growing. Horrible example? Gravity. The rule of gravity says people can’t fly. We weigh too much. So if you hold on to that rule, you’ll never challenge it. But somebody got it in their head that people could, and that led to the Wright Brothers who built the first airplane. And now people fly all the time. Imagine what the world would be like if we didn’t have flight capabilities. And that’s a bad example, but you see where I’m getting at.

Rules make us comfortable. Yes, they’re important, and they’re good, but they should never be used as an excuse to hide. Because when you hide, you stop growing. When you stop growing, you won’t change.

People use the Bible and the Ten Commandments and scripture verses taken out of context to hide. But that’s not how Christ-followers are supposed to live. And the only way to get rid of that mentality that says the law and the rules are what matter is to turn to Christ. Check out verse 17 in this passage:

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

I don’t know about you, but freedom sounds good to me. Again, I like rules. I prefer to have them. But isn’t it a relief to know that obeying the rules isn’t what determines your eternity? I think living a disciplined life is important, but I’m not good enough to be perfect. The plain and simple truth is that people don’t change; but God changes people.

So don’t put your trust in the rules. Follow Christ. Turn toward Christ and pull off the dulling veil of the Law that tells you that you have to perform, and once you can see who Jesus really is and how much He loves you, you’ll understand that you can’t ever be good enough. But the closer you come to Him and the more you get to know Him, the more He’ll change you to be like Him. That’s the way it works.

If you’re tired of trying to change and always failing, get to know Jesus. He wants to know you. And the more you hang out with Him, the more you’ll become like Him. Rules have nothing to do with it.