Lizard on a rock on a hiking trail at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

When everything changes, God is good

I know good people. They’re the kind of people I can trust will always do what’s right, even when it’s difficult. Those are good people to know, to surround yourself with, because they keep you honest and they usually experience good things as a result of their wise choices. Granted, they aren’t perfect. Nobody down here is, but there’s something about people who always do the right thing that is attractive and terrifying. You want to be friends with them, but you’re afraid of them at the same time because if someone always does what’s right, how do they feel about someone who usually ends up doing what’s wrong?

Most of the time those good people don’t even consider themselves good, and the ones I know certainly don’t. They’re just trying to follow Christ as best they can. And that’s one of the amazing truths about God is that He truly is good. There’s no one better. And because He is truly good, everything He does is right.

Lizard on a rock on a hiking trail at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Lizard on a rock on a hiking trail at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Deuteronomy 32:4.

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
    Everything he does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
    how just and upright he is!

There’s no second guessing with God. If He does something, it’s good. The Bible says that over and over and over again. So where does all the hurt and brokenness in our world from? Well, God didn’t create the world like this; He created it perfect, and we’re the ones who broke it. He’s doing the best He can with a world that refuses to listen to Him. If He wanted a world full of robots to do His bidding, He could have “fixed” our world long ago, but that’s not who He is. And those people who get angry at Him for allowing atrocities in our world would chafe against a solution like that anyway.

I don’t claim to understand everything. I don’t claim to understand God. Nobody can do that. But I would like to think I know His heart. I know what the Bible says about Him, and I believe the Bible. So when the Bible says He’s good, that means He is. The world isn’t good. I’m not good. People aren’t good. But God is. And He is working to make things good again for the people who follow Him.

Does that mean that everything that happens is good? No. But we’ve got to remember that the world is currently under different management than it was originally intended. God created it and gave it to us to take care of, but our first parents forfeited that right when they disobeyed, and Satan took over. Yes, God is ultimately in control, but right now Earth is under the governorship of Satan. We gave Him that right, but one day God will take it back. One day God will make everything right again. And until then, we have to trust Him.

So how does that help us today? Today we face a world that is more uncertain than ever. Personally, I live in a country that no longer recognizes itself. Like a rebelling teenager, the United States has pushed away from everything that is good and is striving to do wrong because we can. The rest of the world is already there, but the U.S. is running to catch up and the consequences are going to be disastrous. The whole world is running itself into the ground. I have to laugh about doomsday clocks and the Mayan calendar and all the other threats that say the world is going to end because the world is going to end, but not with ice or fire. The world is going to collapse on itself, rotted from the inside, trying to support a facade of self-righteousness that’s too heavy for something without a spine.

The world is changing by the hour, and most of those changes are bad. Or they will bring bad things, even to people who trying to live right. But because I know that God is good, I trust that He does good things and that He can take even the ugliest situation and make it beautiful.

So when everything goes wrong today, remember that God is good. We may not understand what’s happening or why, but if you’re a follower of Christ, nothing can happen to you that God can’t use for good.

Big horn sheep grazing at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Status quo

This is the time of year when everyone starts thinking about change. We think about changing our weight. We think about changing our style. We think about changing our habits and the types of people we hang out with and the things we do.

Everyone changes things up in January, and I think it’s ironic because deep down inside, I don’t think anyone really likes change. People are creatures of habit. Even the change we initiate is uncomfortable, and most people I know change things up because they don’t want to get stuck in a rut. They do it as a preventative measure; not because they yearn for change. Maybe I’m wrong and there are people out there who thrive on change, but I haven’t met one before.

But change is essential. Without change, we don’t grow. Without change, we plateau. Without change, we get comfortable, not only with ourselves but with God. And that’s a place I never want to be. I never want to be comfortable with God, where I feel perfectly capable of doing everything myself and never having to ask Him for help.

Big horn sheep grazing at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Big horn sheep grazing at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Genesis 12:1-3.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

God has a history of helping ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and the story of Abraham and Sarah (at this time, Abram and Sarai) is just one example. There was nothing special about Abraham. He was just a guy who made a choice–to follow God instead of rejecting Him. But that one choice changed everything.

God told him to leave. Leave his home. Leave his family. Leave the life he’d built in the country he’d always known. And just go. God didn’t say where. He didn’t tell Him where he’d be living or how he was going to get there or when (or if) he’d ever come back.  Just go.

And Abraham did.

The trouble with me is that I hate change. I despise it. I can deal with it. I don’t mind coping with change, but it’s my least favorite thing in the world. I understand why it’s necessary, but I don’t like it.

I have the same internet provider I’ve had for years. I have the same cellular phone provider I did when I was a child. I use the same brand of shampoo and conditioner on my hair. I hate change. But change is good.

Now, does that mean the status quo is bad? Well, not necessarily. Change is good, but many people are in a position where they have to keep to the status quo right now. Changing right now would have a negative impact on their lives or on their families. But if God has told you to change, you need to do it.

The thing about Abraham is that God had huge plans for him. Like this verse lays out, Abraham had a great future in store for him. I mean, imagine what would have happened if Abraham hadn’t done it. He would never have left. He would never have become the father of Israel. Everything hinged on Abraham doing what God called him to do. Granted, God would have worked out His master plan some other way, but think about what Abraham would have missed out on.

The long and the short of it is that God couldn’t have used Abraham where he was. He had to move. He had to change.

I have a lot of things changing in my life this year. Some changes I’ve chosen. Most of them I haven’t. They range from my personal life to my professional life, from my own life to the lives of the people I love. And the one uniting factor is that I have absolutely zero control over any of it. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m a control freak, and not having control over anything shakes my world.

None of the change is bad, necessarily. On the contrary, most of it is super exciting and shows just how much God is working not only in my life but in the lives of others. But in all these situations, the only thing I can do is hold on to what I know is true and keep moving forward.

Change is unsettling and uncomfortable and unpleasant. And it helps me remember that I’m not in control and that I need help daily. Change helps us grow because we don’t know what’s coming next and we have to rely on God for every step, because when we change everything up we don’t know what the next step is going to bring.

But if God has called you to change something in your life, don’t be afraid of it. If He’s called you to change, do it. The story of Abraham tells us that God’s already worked out the details; he just needs us to say yes and take that first step, even if we can’t see where we’re going.

Pine cone on a step at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Clinging to God when life changes

Life changes. That’s just an understood rule. Life never stops moving. People come. People go. They get married. They get divorced or maybe they stay together and move on. Relationships form and end, and even if friendships last an extended time, they don’t look the same that they did when they started. Change is a part of life. We live in a state of constant flux. Nothing ever stays the same. … except God, of course. That’s what’s nice about being a Christian. Even if the whole world is spinning out of control, you can cling to God and know that you won’t lose your footing.

I’m teetering on the edge of some pretty big changes myself. Nothing bad. A lot of exciting things, really. But I don’t like change. I’m okay with it because I understand it’s necessary, but even though I recognize its usefulness, that doesn’t mean I have to embrace it with dry eyes.

So I got to wondering how we’re supposed to handle necessary change. And I’m sure there are a lot of places in Scripture to look, but the first passage that came to mind was today’s verse.

Pine cone on a step at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Pine cone on a step at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Ruth 1:14.

And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi.

I love the story of Ruth. Ruth, herself, is just a wonderful woman, and I can’t wait to meet her.

Let me give you a little background briefly. Ruth was from Moab, one of the countries opposed to Israel. This all happened during the time of the Judges, before Israel had a king (other than God). A man took his wife (Naomi) and sons and went to live in Moab because of a famine in Israel; the sons took wives, Ruth and Orpah.

Then, the man died, leaving Naomi a widow. And then the sons died, leaving Naomi childless and Ruth and Orpah without husbands. Naomi decided to go back to her home, a little town called Bethlehem, and at first both Orpah and Ruth went with her. But after Naomi kept insisting that they should stay in their own country, Orpah went home. But Ruth clung to Naomi.

If you know the story, you know how that ends up, how Ruth takes care of Naomi and how Ruth eventually marries a man named Boaz and becomes a one of David’s ancestors, which means she is part of Jesus’ family tree. If you don’t know the story, read it; it’s short and wonderful and worth it.

There are lots of things to focus on in the story of Ruth, but right now I just wanted to focus on Ruth’s reaction. Because she had lost everything. She had turned her back on her own people (even though they were evil, it was the culture she was born into) and given up her old life to marry Naomi’s son. But Naomi’s son died, and that meant Ruth had no means of provision for herself or for her future.

That’s a big change. From one day to the next, Ruth went from security to acute loss.

I think people often demonize Orpah because she went back to Moab. But of course she went back.  She went back to what she knew. She went back to her family and her friends and the culture she had grown up with. She was comfortable there. I don’t blame her. It’s easy to go back to what you’re used to when your life changes so drastically you don’t know who you are anymore.

But Ruth is an exception. She didn’t go back. She clung to Naomi, and that really stuck with me today.

Why?

Even throughout this first chapter, it’s easy to see that Naomi is pretty bitter. She’s sad and overwhelmed with grief at the loss of her husband and her sons, and she really thinks her life is over. So why would Ruth subject herself to that kind of relationship?

Well, Ruth loved Naomi. Naomi was a godly woman. And even thought Naomi was in the darkest part of her life, she was still clinging to God. She hadn’t given up on God.

I’m sure Ruth knew there was something different about her husband’s family when she married into them. And when Ruth’s life changed drastically, she didn’t flee back to the life she knew, she clung to the new hope she had found in God.

Change is a part of living. Everything changes. Some change is good; some change isn’t so good. But change comes around no matter how much we try to avoid it or stop it. And when that happens, we have a choice. We can put on the brakes and retreat to the corner where we’re comfortable, or we can give the accelerator to God and hold on as we plunge ahead into the unknown.

Ruth clung to God and held on tight when He led her through challenges and circumstances that she didn’t understand. But when He was done, she had a place to belong and a place in history, and even though this all happened thousands and thousands of years ago, people still know her name.

Going back is comfortable but you won’t accomplish anything great. And I guess, if you’re okay with that, go for it. But don’t be so willing to give up the awesome plan God has for you just because you’re afraid of what you can’t predict.