We can divide the general population into two groups based on any preference, belief or disposition. There are those who like ketchup and those who do not like ketchup. There are those who have children and those who do not. There are those who believe in the Bible and those who do not. Here is a good one:
There are those who like change and those who do not.
I have experienced a lot of change and transition in my life. When I was in the third grade my parents sat my sisters and me down to tell us that we were moving from Philadelphia, PA to the middle of a cornfield in Indiana. They dressed it up to sound amazing – we were going to get horses (my lifelong dream), live in the country and it would be an adventure. Of course it was hard to move – to leave church, school and friends – but I was excited. Moving and transitioning has been a big part of my life ever since: college, grad school, moving overseas, and finding jobs in different states, and finding churches along the way… And it is always exciting for me. Sometimes staying in one place for too long causes me to get the itch. Other people are the exact opposite. Some people prefer to stay where they know everyone, where they have deep roots, living in one house and having one job. For them there is nothing appealing about change and they avoid it.
Our relationships with God take on an interesting dynamic based on this preference and worldview. Those people who do not like change will pray and cry out to God any time something rocks their world or threatens the day-to-day. Perhaps a friend is moving away or a job ends. These things break the routine and people become afraid, sad, or insecure. Those people who thrive on and love change, however, will experience fear, sorrow and insecurity when life settles into a predictable routine with no change. Such people love to move, to meet new people, to find a new job, and to not be tied down. The emotions are the same, however they are triggered by the exact opposite circumstance.
Both experiences, both dispositions, however, lead us to a fundamental truth and necessity: Trust. We must trust God. The essence of the Christian life is sanctification.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”
– 1 Thess 4.3
Sanctification is, by definition, change. It is the daily fighting of sin, dying to ourselves and learning to submit to God and His will. This might include a dramatic move to serve as a missionary in a foreign land for some, but for all it will be the daily fighting of temptations, of choosing love and not anger, of putting away bitterness, of honoring other people as more important than ourselves, and of loving and knowing God. This kind of change is difficult for everyone and is only made possible by the empowering of the Holy Spirit (John 16.8).
But sanctification is built on trusting God. We cannot be saved unless we trust the promises of God that were purchased by Jesus’ death on the cross. Salvation is fundamentally believing and trusting God that Jesus purchased our forgiveness and will save us in eternity. Strangely, however, many of us profess to trust God for our eternity without making the effort to trust Him in our daily lives. For many God is our safety net for everything that happens after death, but we think we have no need of Him until that point.
And it is this same basic trust that we must learn and practice in seasons of change or routine – whichever causes us distress. God has promised that He will meet all of our needs:
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
– Phil 4.19
He has also promised that He will never leave us:
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
– Deut 31.6
He has promised a way of escape from every single temptation to sin, and has promised to enable us to fight every temptation that comes:
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
– 1 Cor 10.13
And most importantly, He has promised to use every single life circumstance to work together for our good (read: our sanctification) and His glory:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
– Rom 8.28
If we trust and believe all of those promises, then we can boldly walk into a new phase of life. We can move. We can stay put. We can remain in a job. We can take a new job. Of one thing we can be sure. God is going to put us in situations that stretch our trust and faith. Otherwise we would never be sanctified! Thus, if our comfort zone is change, He may leave us in a situation longer than we prefer. If our comfort zone is the same-old, same-old, then He might shake up our world. If He does not put us in a circumstance to change, we should be concerned – because He disciplines and chastens all whom He loves (Heb 12.6).
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”
– 1 Peter 1.6-9