Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is your road changing direction? Go with it.

I've noticed how when summer greets autumn the winds blows like heck around here. Parts of our yard become junk piles of broken branches. I guess these branches are too old to hold on. Their time has come. They won't see the next spring.

I am reading a book called "Permission Granted: To Do Church Differently in the 21th Century" by Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell. I've spent some time stuck in the Introduction because it is that good.

"Transition is an adventure into the unknown with all the attendant risks that the uncharted can formulate around us. Change provokes our hearts because it challenges the status quo. It makes us feel uneasy and vulnerable  because it takes us into territory where we have never been before. We are happy to talk about Abraham going out without knowing where he was going, simply trusting God to get him there (see Heb. 11:8). However, when it is our turn to make the journey of faith, it is a different matter. God has His own road maps for times such as these. The old ones are useless to us, and the new ones are completed as we go!
Every change involves a letting go of one thing to reach out for what is next. It is death by installments--the slow death of our mindsets, our attitudes, perceptions, and paradigms with apparently nothing obvious to take their place. That is, we see only the replacement concept as we journey. We don't just see it, though; we experience it. Sometimes our experience is first, and we go through something that we understand only in retrospect. It is important, therefore, if we are to journey with the Lord into new lands, that we build in time to reflect and review where we are and where we have come from."
Wow! That's good, isn't it! The thought that especially strikes me is: "The old ones (road maps) are useless to us, and the new ones are completed as we go!"

Those old tree branches are too old for buds to form and leaves to grow. They are too brittle to hold the squirrels and birds that need refuge. They are useless.

I love how God teaches us through His creation. Every new season and stage requires a new road map. The problem for us is that road map is only discovered as we begin to walk. This faith walk is emotionally and mentally challenging because not only are we creatures of habit, but we are people who love to know where we are going!

When the winds of newness begin to blow, we close our windows so that we cannot feel the breeze or we shut down our spiritual intuition until the change is already upon us. In those times we scramble to readjust because we know that we can't retreat. Yes, sometimes we move to a different church or dye our hair. Often we find some way to hold onto the hope that what we've become comfortable with and accepted will return. 

Some things are never returning.

As Christians we have but one promise to hold on to in Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. No matter what is before us, it is part of God's plan and we must hold steadfast to the truth that our good God makes good plans. It doesn't matter that the last child moves out next week or that today the moving truck comes to load up all of your memories. It also doesn't matter what topic our media is sensationalizing when it comes to the plight of a sin-stained world. God gives us a future and a hope.

Truly it must be His presence and His faithful words that set our feet to walking and keep us steady as we go. One day, the trees around our house will die and fall unless we take the initiative to cut them down before they fall on something we value.

What wind is blowing around you, breaking off withered branches? Is it time to cut a tree down?

"Lord, take my hand. I am reaching to hold onto what I know is the surest and truest reality of my life and that is you. I don't know what is ahead. But I know that because you exist outside of time, you are already in my future, waiting. Thank you Jesus for your faithful hand to guide."