Thursday, October 15, 2015

31Days - Change

I was carrying out the small bin of recyclables from our kitchen a few days ago and noticed a paper on the top. It was a printout from one of my daughter's assignments for her English class. I don't normally go snooping through the recyclables, but this was on top and something about it caught my eye. So I stood beside the outside bin reading:
As we took our seats on our cold, brown, leather couches, pure excitement was painted on my parents' faces and soon spread to our faces, too. They started off by revealing that my dad would be able to work from home now and would spend more time at home. I thought this was the gift by itself, but my parents continued.

"This means we could move to Indiana and be closer to your grandparents and cousins," my mom let out with great enthusiasm.

Jessie, my older sister, shared that same enthusiasm and couldn't wait to pack up her bags to leave. Dani, my older sister, wanted to move, too, but knew she would have to spend her senior year in a new school. I, however, had no desire whatsoever to move across the country away from my friends and everything I had ever known; my parents would be moving back home, but I would be moving away from it.

Tears streamed down my face, my words too broken up by sobs to understand. Eventually I calmed down slightly. I was able to make audible words come out of my mouth to explain my tears. I didn't want to leave my friends. Or my home. Or the reminders of my childhood memories. I was heartbroken.....

My thoughts were all jumbled up. Arguments for staying and leaving were racing around, one after another. I locked myself in my newly redecorated bedroom and laid on my back on my bed until I could make a decision. To help sort out my thoughts, I created an imaginary balance and began weighing my options. I started placing coins in the corresponding plates. No guilt: into the Indiana plate – clink. Being with friends: Texas plate – clink. Being with family: Indiana – clink. Continue living in our home: Texas – clink. Seeing snow for more than just on vacation: Indiana – clink. Staying in my comfort zone: Texas – clink. My sisters being happy and endless new possibilities: Indiana – clink, clink. Although the Indiana plate was heavier, I still had my doubts. But I kept feeling a tug at my heart; God telling me to make a leap of faith, trust him, and move away from everything that had long been comfortable to me.

Decision day came. My parents took us out to eat at a local Tex-Mex restaurant. The aroma of fresh, warm tortilla chips filled the atmosphere as we took our seats and ordered our drinks. Other families were switching between eating and talking. Mine was silent. And I, personally, had no desire to change it. My parents, however, did.

My parents addressed the elephant in the room head on asking for my final decision. I sat silent, still undecided. The answer "no" kept repeating in my head but, for no other reason but God, the word "yes" came out.... So it was settled. Over the summer we would move and my life would completely change, as would my address and my school....

I cut parts of her writing for brevity's sake, but you get the idea. My daughter wasn't happy with the idea of change. As I stood there reading her story, tears gathered in my eyes. I understood it. When I was a junior or senior in high school my dad's job had looked pretty shaky and there had been talk of moving to Michigan. I remember my reaction. It wasn't good. Looking back at how much I hated my high school and the lack of connection I had to anyone there, it's kind of surprising. You would have thought I would've welcomed the chance to start over. From where I stood though, change wasn't good. It was uncomfortable. It was scary.

It still is. I put off finding a new doctor here in Indiana until I landed in the hospital. I put off getting a new dentist. I hate shopping for a new church. I even hate shopping for new jeans. The old ones are comfortable.

So my fear for Day Fifteen:

I am afraid of change.

It's a real fear... with some valid reasons behind it. Change can be uncomfortable and hard. So there's some truth in the fear. But what's the real Truth? Truth with a capital T?

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
(Isaiah 43:18

God calls us not to get stuck in the past.

Several times in the Old Testament God instructs the Israelites to build altars so they have something concrete to help them remember events that showed God's goodness and provision (e.g. after they had crossed on dry land through the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians). Here, though, He commands them not to call to mind former things, or ponder things of past. He doesn't want them so stuck in the past that they can't (or won't) move forward into the new things God has planned.

They had a history of that. After being led out of slavery in Egypt, they weren't happy with things in the desert. They grumbled that they should have just stayed in Egypt. (Exodus 17:3). It's easy for us to look at that and think they were a bunch of ungrateful jerks. I mean, they were slaves in Egypt! Who would want to go back to that? But when Joseph's family first went to Egypt, they were fleeing famine. God had provided for them through Egypt in the past. Things had changed for them in Egypt, and it wasn't good for them now. But when facing hunger and thirst on the way to a land full of milk and honey, they clung to that old memory. It was good to remember God's provision. But they were stuck in that past; afraid of the change they were being called to.

We need to remember the ways He has worked in our lives, but we can't get so stuck there (or so comfortable there) that we never go forward to the new things God has for us. The very next verse of that passage in Isaiah calls us to something new:

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

God promises He will do something new.

He is a God of creation. From Genesis, to working in our lives even now, He is always doing something new. Always moving us forward; stretching and growing us to become more like Christ.

God asks us to be watching for the new thing.

"Will you not be aware of it?" In other words, will you pay attention? Will you stay in step with Me? In effect, He's saying "Watch for it!"

God promises to make a way.

"I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." We tend to worry about the details or obstacles, but God sees our fear and worry before we even voice it and says "Don't worry about it. I'll prepare the way."

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
(Jeremiah 29:11).

God's plans for us are for good and not evil; to give us a hope and a future.

O LORD, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
(Isaiah 25:1)

God's plans were formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.

Whatever change we are facing isn't something that God has thought up on the spur of the moment. His plans have been in place since the beginning. And they are good!

Going back to my daughter's paper, she continued:
Now I, a senior in high school, reflect on the change of these last four and a half years, while standing in the water in front of my grandparents' lake house, and know that my worries were unwarranted, my doubts foolish, and my life in God's hands. There are so many blessings that I would not have been able to receive had I lived in Texas and I am grateful for every single one of them. New friends made through Bible quizzing, marching band, common classes, youth group, or chance meetings. New opportunities like being drum major, top quizzer, and mission trips. And new memories such as bus rides, band camps, state and national competitions, lock-ins, lock-outs, late nights, early mornings, wet grass, muddy feet, frozen keys, sore fingers, ice cream mountains, dead squirrels, movie marathons, extreme slip-and-slides, apples-to-apples, newborn cries, campfire worship, inside jokes, holding hands, comfort zones, guardian angels, cathedrals, alchemists, and so many more. All of them were impossible to be made without first having a change. Each of them a blessing and for them I am immensely grateful.

Minnows tickling my feet and wet sand between my toes, I stand and gaze across an orange and blue colored sky, reflected on the glassy waters of a lake, sprinkled with the first few twinkling stars of the approaching twilight, and I feel peace. More than that – I feel God's presence. I look back on my past and see His footprints in everything since that family meeting and even before. In all the new friends, opportunities, and memories, He was there giving my life more meaning than ever possible without Him. There was a right choice. And I, through God's guidance, had made it.

All I can say to that is:

Sing to the LORD a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth!
(Isaiah 42:10)

So let's sing a new song!

Father, sometimes change is scary. I look at what's in my hand and I like it. I look where I'm at and I'm happy. But help me to always remember that You call me to a future that You hold. You call me to a future You have planned and had mapped out since the beginning of time. Help me to watch with excitement for the new thing You are doing instead of dragging my feet looking at what I'm leaving.
I want to sing Your praise from the end of the earth.
I want to sing a new song!

Fear: I am afraid of change.


  • God calls us not to get stuck in the past. (Isaiah 43:18)
  • God promises He will do something new. (Isaiah 43:19)
  • God asks us to be watching for the new thing. (Isaiah 43:19)
  • God promises to make a way. (Isaiah 43:19)
  • God's plans for us are for good and not evil; to give us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • God's plans were formed long ago with perfect faithfulness. (Isaiah 25:1)
  • So sing a new song! (Isaiah 42:10)

Note: My daughter did give permission for me to use her story. Typos are probably mine and I did edit some for brevity.


Note: This post is part of a 31-day writing challenge. Click here to see the rest of the posts on my 31 Days of Fear (and Truth).

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