Sunday, June 8, 2014

Infinitely More

I never used to think of myself as somebody who fears change.

I mean, I've always known that my sister doesn't like change. Even the smallest changes, like taking a different road to church or not being able to go to horseback riding on a Thursday night because of the rain. She always needs routine, consistency, warnings, explanations. Change has always been her struggle, not mine.

If there's anything I have realized lately, though, it's that change is one of my struggles too.

I definitely don't need such exact routines as my sister. My days and weeks aren't always the same, and last minute plans are sometimes fun. But big changes are still hard.

So hard.

My sister likes consistency because when things are always the same she can prepare herself. She knows that she was to get up at exactly 7:30 if she is going to make it to her bus, and she knows that right when she gets home from school she can make her chocolate-strawberry smoothie as a snack. On Mondays she goes to Courtney's house, and once a month she can go out for dinner with my grandparents. Each day and week is organized and there aren't any surprises.

When I think about the big picture of my life, that's kind of what it looks like for me too. I have plans for myself. Good plans. Plans that make sense to me. Plans that prepare me and help me know what steps to take. I have lists and deadlines and schedules.

The thing is, when we follow God's leading change is inevitable. Whether we like it or not, things are always going to be changing. God wants our lives to move forward so that He can fulfill His purpose in each of us.

But what is His purpose for us? Why does He have to turn our worlds upside down?


He wants us to be happy
I didn't fully realize until a couple days ago that God really does know us inside and out. He seriously knows us better than we know ourselves. We could have the most perfectly designed dreams, but He still has something planned that He knows we will like better. I don't even know how that's possible because I always seem to think I have it all figured out. Still, every time, God seems to say: "Sorry, my plan will bring you so much more happiness."

Whoever trusts the Lord will be happy.
Proverbs 16:20

If we are going to get anywhere in life, we need to realize that we don't know ourselves as well as we think we do. The One who created us knows what will bring us the most joy.

He wants to strengthen us
I think another reason why change is so hard is because it carries with it an entire collection of unknowns. When God brings something along that isn't the same as what we had previously planned, it's hard for us to imagine what the outcome will be. We don't know what steps to take or where we will end up. That's why change is inevitable with God. He turns our worlds upside down so that we will realize we are powerless and be forced to trust Him instead of ourselves.

For when I am weak, then I am strong
2 Corinthians 12:10

If life was completely consistent, and if we directed our own steps, faith wouldn't exist.

He wants to align our priorities
Sometimes we become consumed with routines and accomplishments. To-do lists and schedules become complete idols. We have our perfect plans and we like them. It's comforting to have things all in order. But sometimes we need change to remind us what's really important. For me, maybe God continually turns my world upside down to remind me that hiding in my room and studying for hours on end isn't furthering His kingdom. For some people, maybe God wants to take away old jobs and provide new jobs that will help their gifts shine more brightly, or maybe He wants to move some people away from home so that they can learn the importance of new friendships. There are so many opportunities than come with change.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
Romans 12:2


I think when it comes down to it we all have a love-hate relationship with change. We have small longings to take risks and see what happens. We want to be closer to God, and we try to move in that direction, but fear always gets in the way.

Peter was a disciple who longed to have those faith-stretching moments with Jesus. He asked Jesus to call him onto the water, but when he finally stepped out "he became afraid and began to sink" (Matthew 14:30). Peter cried out to Jesus, and Jesus reached out for Peter right away. Of course He would never let Peter drown! He then questioned Peter's doubt and calmly erased the wind and the waves. Peter had become so overwhelmed with the unfamiliarity of the situation around him that he forgot Jesus was right there.

We need to realize that God isn't going to lead us in the wrong directions. It actually seems ridiculous to think that we know more about the world and our lives than He does.

We don't have the ability to fathom what He has planned for us. Even the greatest creations of our imaginations can't compare to the everlasting vastness of God and His perfect plans.

So when we love God more than anything else (including our own ideas and to-do lists), we don't have to be afraid of surprises and changes. God moves mountains and works miracles when we step out of our comfort zones.

And His greatest blessings will come when we least expect them.


Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty work at power within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
Ephesians 3:20-21