Friday, 13 February 2009

Change

CHANGE
Do you remember when you were a child, school holidays seemed to go on forever, chewing gum never lost its flavour and when on a long journey the destination never seemed to come! Parents always got exasperated with comments like ‘I’m bored! How much further? Are we there yet? Parents also got fed up with putting their hands on age old chewing gum stuck to chairs and bed heads! Childhood just went on and on, but imperceptibly we grew and matured until the day came when the first tentative steps were taken to live alone. It may have been when going to college or university or just wanting independence, but sooner or later we left home and the first major change occurred in our lives. Sadly, there are children who through tragedy experience life changes and insecurity at earlier ages, but by and large our awareness of change comes as we reach young adulthood. But even as the moves towards independence come and changes occur, somehow they are made with the knowledge [even if not admitted] that not so far away the stability of home is still there.

Our seventy years of life is very brief and as we grow older, changes come with increasing rapidity. The passage of time is marked by changes in life both good and bad; marriage, birth of our own children, kindnesses and loving care from others bring joy. Yet that joy is tainted by sorrow as we lose through death the company of those whom we love, the unexpected always happens and we sometimes hit a physical or spiritual brick wall, in the sense that illness, disease, disability or the unkind and ill thought actions of others take their toll. We come know our own weakening and ageing. Old age comes to all and we realise all too quickly our own mortality.

In a well know hymn we sing that ”change is our portion now.” How true this statement is. Some changes come so quickly others imperceptibly. Just like the second and minute hands on a clock, the rising and setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons are marks on the clock of life signalling the passage of time and change. But at the same time, we can stare at the hour hand of a clock and not see it move, yet it does in time, but that movement is slow and imperceptible to our eye. So also, many life changes occur imperceptibly. The changes we need to watch are the spiritual changes and such changes can be both good and bad. Life has many paths and crossroads always come. The path we choose is not always of necessity right or wrong, but the choices will lead to different outcomes and those outcomes will have an effect for good or ill upon our spiritual well being.

We are constantly changing even if we cannot see it. We react to stressors in life and the changes that occur can gradually debilitate or strengthen faith. Those changes are happening and constantly will happen. What we need to do is to make sure that we are changing in the right direction.

So how do we measure spiritual change? Well, just ask yourself do I know more about the scriptures now than say last year? Do I read the Bible more or read less frequently than a year ago? What have I learned over the past few months? Do I attend the meetings and meet with my brethren and sisters as often as last year? How often do I pray?
These things are a sort of spiritual barometer of change. If the mercury falls then we read less often, learn less, become less motivated and apathy sets in. If we read more and take in what we read, then we will learn. The more knowledge increases the more our zeal and enthusiasm will grow and the barometer goes up. Change occurs in the right direction and faith is stronger.

Similarly, we need to review the circumstances that trigger prayer. Ask yourself, does prayer come only when I am in need, or do I actively seek contact with Yahweh through prayer in times of joy, to express thanksgiving, but also to commune and meditate upon the wonderful, glorious characteristics and purpose of Yahweh?
Life is in a constant flux of change and much of that change is beyond our control, but we do have control over how we respond to change. We also have a measure of control over what changes we initiate ourselves. Response to change will be governed by faith and by our mental characteristics. That hymn rightly states ‘change is our portion now’ but equally as correctly says: ‘Faithful is Yahweh’s word, I will be with thee saith the Lord’.  The words of scripture are truth indeed and are unchanging. If God be for us who can be against us!

We maybe recall King Asa was told, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” Equally, Paul’s words of exhortation and encouragement come ringing through the years:
“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.” Rom 13:11-12

So let us resolve today, NOW, to seek God while He may be found, to make changes that are likely to enhance and strengthen faith, to respond to changes in a way that will please Yahweh and to follow the principles of scripture day by day.
Andy P.