Some people love change and thrive on things switching up. Other people hate change and are paralyzed by it. With big changes coming in the near future for our students (especially our 8th graders moving up into high school), we started a series called “Change: Moving Forward.” Whether an impending change is exciting or is full of anxiety - how do we move forward in change with God in the forefront?
I personally have had a fair amount of change in my short 27 years of living, and one of the biggest changes was moving from Chicago to California. Saying bye to friends and family, to a church and city that Jenna and I both loved was a very difficult thing to do. There was fear involved, knowing that this change would drastically change my entire life. With change coming for our students, this first week we looked at the question:
How do we prepare and move forward when we know big change is approaching?
The story of Abraham in the Old Testament is an incredible one, that is largely defined by his obedience to God. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham went through major changes and he moved 400 miles away from his home to a foreign land because that is what God had in store for him. God blessed Abraham with the honor of being the father of the Jewish nation, the lineage that Jesus Christ was born into. Abraham obeyed God in the face of big changes, and because of that, God used him in an incredible way. When we know that change is coming, we need to be prepared to obey God in our changes. If you choose to obey God in the face of change, He will use you in amazing ways - just like He did with Abraham.
What happens if you are fearful and anxious about an approaching change? I think we can take encouragement from Joshua, one of the greatest military leaders in the Bible. Joshua is largely known for being Moses’ second in command, and eventually taking over for Moses in leading God’s people to the Promised Land. Taking over for Moses - those are some big, dusty sandals to fill in for! That certainly would give me a bit of anxiety. When Joshua was initially taking over for Moses, God said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. In fact, God told Joshua to be “strong and courageous” three times in the span of eight short verses. When we know that change is approaching, we must move forward in strength and courage. And we can do that knowing that God is with us wherever we go, just like He told Joshua.
When everything around us is changing, holding on to the constant things in life can have a grounding and comforting effect - and that is why Hebrews 13:8 is such an encouraging verse. It says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” When we focus on the unchanging nature of Jesus, we are confident that Jesus is always our rock, our fortress, and our place of comfort. We know He is always there for us and will never leave us. He loves us all of the time and that will never change. His sacrifice will never change, He always has time for us, will always listen to us, etc. etc. So when we know that change is coming, remember that Jesus is our constant.
As I said, moving across the country was one of the biggest changes I have had to face. Although there were anxious moments, I am so blessed to look back and see what God has done in my life from one of the biggest changes I experienced. I love living in California, I have met some incredible people, and now being a youth pastor at PCC is an amazing blessing that God has given me. Even if it is a little scary, we should move forward into change in obedience, knowing that God will use us in amazing ways. We can move forward in strength and courage, because God is always with us. And knowing that Jesus is constant gives us all the confidence and assurance we could ever need.