"For I know the plans I have for you. . . . " Jeremiah 29:11
Picture yourself walking along this shore with Jesus.
As I browsed the shelves of the local bookstore, a phrase caught my eye on the cover of one particular book. . . . ."God's Plan For Your Life. . . Embracing Change."
Embrace - meaning to enfold, grip, hug - I thought, as I reflected upon major changes in my life. I have never thought about change in that way.
I recalled how my mother had related to change while I was growing up. Even adding a Christmas tree to our small living room upset her - it changed her surroundings and all the commotion of decorating it was unsettling to her. I think once it was up, she enjoyed it.
But she did not enjoy the process of change.
Maybe some of that perspective rubbed off on me as a child but as I grew into adulthood I realized that change is inevitable and a part of life. Still,I sometimes struggled with how I viewed it - especially if the change was more negative in nature. To me, positive change is much easier to accept and embrace. As a Christian, I have learned that God is in control of every change. Yet, have I really accepted that fact in my personal life? Or do I find myself trying to take over the reins again and again?
Trying to control my life instead of letting God.
I have been a disciple of Christ since I was 17. Did you know that the word disciple means "to be a learner"? Well, I am still on a learning curve and probably will be until the day I leave this earth.
Hmmmm. . . . . embracing change? Okay, I have been through some major changes especially over the last 10 years or so. My most recent? Not being able to find full time employment since September 2011.
And God wants me to embrace this change?
"But, God, this is the pits. I want to work. You've given me skills and I want to use them to help others. And you know God, it's just you and me together here. How am I suppose to survive?"
(oops, not trusting, again)
"I know Lord, I know, every time I fret, I am not trusting you to take care of me.
Please forgive me."
So many times I have went over this conversation with God about a multitude of things that make little sense to me. I find myself asking God, why? Not only for me but for friends or family in circumstances - changes - I do not understand. Well, as you may have guessed. I picked up a copy of that book. And it has been a wonderful blessing. So what do you do with a blessing? You share it.
Thus this blog post:-)
A 30-day read, each time I read, I learn how to embrace change, I let it sink into my heart and soul and write down my reflections at the end of every chapter.
I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit led me to that book - I mean, there were hundreds to chose from that day. Not only that, the sermons I have been hearing at church lately are like a P.S. to the book. God has something for me to learn.
The Holy Spirit at work again? Yes!
One of the first things I learned is perspective is everything - the difference between night and day. I was envisioning the changes in my life as like "riding on a roller coaster" - first this way, then that, not knowing what to expect, up, down, around; chaotic changes at best. Then I realized, now, wait a minute, who is in charge of my journey? God is. I had to ask myself.
"Would He put me on a roller coaster?" and then answered, "No!"
Now I see the truth. . . that I am walking down a path with my hand in His - it's a winding path - not a straight one, there have been some curves, some hills, some valleys, but His hand has always been there for me to hold.
Sometimes I forget that. "Lo, I am with you always," He said, as recorded in the book of Matthew.
My favorite verse.
Yet, I had myself on a roller coaster?
Other insights I am learning about change include:
(1) God does not change. He is solid, strong, like a rock. You can lean on Him, rest in Him, and know that His love is constant.
(2) Accept that change will always be. And you cannot control most of it.
(3) God has a plan for your life and a purpose for you on this earth. Going through a multitude of changes is often part of discovering His plan.
(4) Sometimes you may fall down or stumble. I have. Let Him help you up or let Him carry you for awhile.
(5) Ask God to help you learn new ways to think about change especially if you are apt to turn toward the negative side. You can unlearn things.
(6) Life is an exercise in solving problems - that is just the way it is. There will never be a time when you don't have some kind of problem to solve. But you are not alone. God is with you, ask for His help. There are other servants around too who can help:-)
(7) The past is unchangeable - no Monday morning quarterbacking. Learn from it, accept it and move on.
(8) If you are in the habit of thinking negatively, ask God to help you think positively. One drains your energy, the other energizes you. Which do you think God wants for you?
(9) Ask God to reveal His plan for your life - your purpose - maybe you have had a lot of role changes where you don't even feel like you know where you belong anymore. He still has a place for you.
(10) God is greater than we can comprehend; take Him more seriously. He doesn't think like us - His thoughts are much higher, deeper, broader than the human mind can understand. He can do more in our lives than we ever imagined - if we let Him.(that's the part I am still learning).
(11 While going through lots of life changes, find people to love and serve; as the saying goes, giving yourself away is the best way to bring yourself together.
(12) Try to spend more time with cheerleaders than negative scrooges - but you can still love the scrooges:-)
Well, I have more reading to do and more sermons to catch. In the meantime, I hope my blog has been a blessing to you today.
Oh one last thing. . . . . . .if you are going through major changes, be gentle with yourself and ask other disciples to pray - there is great power in prayer.