When Change Is Thrust Upon Us

All change is a step into the unknown. Whether we choose a change for ourselves, or have some change imposed on us, change demands that we leave what we know and move toward what is not yet clearly defined. For this reason, change offers us an amazing opportunity for personal and spiritual growth—but we often miss it.

I remember vividly the day in 1971 when I received my draft notice from Uncle Sam informing me that I’d soon be a member of the US armed services. I admit that it didn’t catch me totally off-guard, but it was definitely imposed on me!

God helped me in my response to that life-changing event and the three years I spent in the Army enriched my life in many ways. But I can’t say that I’ve always responded to unwanted change so positively.

Often, when change is imposed on us, we miss these growth opportunities, or perhaps experience only a portion of them for several reasons.

  • We may buck or balk at the change. When we actively resist change that is unavoidable, we may fight, kick and scratch, or simply grumble and complain about it. If the change is truly inevitable, then such a response not only hinders our growth, but makes us difficult to get along with for others.
  • We may blame others for the change. If what we perceive to be a negative change is forced on us, it’s easy to resent it, become angry about it, and focus our anger on those responsible for the change. (We often view God as the culprit.) These responses are caustic and place us in a thick, dark smog that prevents us from seeing the situation clearly.
  • We may retreat from the change. We do this by passively avoiding the change, trying to postpone it, or denying the reality of it. This approach casts us into a fantasy of our own creation where no real growth or forward movement can occur.

Again, I recently had a significant change imposed on me. It would be easy for me to default to one of the responses above and let my mind go to dark places. But I don’t want to miss out on what God has for me in this change. I want to grab hold of it and squeeze every drop of benefit from it possible. How do we do that?

When Jesus was contemplating the monumental change that would soon be thrust on him in terms of the cross and the horrors that accompanied it, he said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24 NIV)

Remarkably, in the very next verse, Jesus applied the same principle to us who follow him. A life following Jesus calls for change—constant change. Following Jesus means daily dying to self and pursuing him. In his presence, we cannot remain unchanged.

The application here is not that we die or submit to the change. Instead, we’re dying to the fleshly response to that change that we’re tempted to engage in and we willfully submit to Christ.

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” Because, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:6 & 8 NIV)


Six Ways to Revitalize Your Marriage!

1. Recognize that marriage is hard work, so stick with it and give it your best efforts!

When our kids were little we were having a discussion about marriage around the dinner table. Our older two children indicated that, yes, they wanted to get married some day. When we asked our youngest son, Luke (who was about six at the time) whether he would marry someday, he pondered that question thoughtfully and stated matter-of-factly, “I don’t know if I’ll get married. Marriage is hard work! I think I’ll get a job instead.” Linda and I hope that it wasn’t our marriage that gave Luke the idea that marriage is so hard! Anyways, after the laughter subsided, we had to agree with our six-year-old therapist—marriage is hard work! So roll up your sleeves and put into your marriage the work required to make it great!

2. Tell your spouse you love him/her often (multiple times every day). Guys, don’t give me any baloney like, “I don’t need to tell her I love her, she already knows it.” Tell your sweetheart you love her! She needs and wants to hear you say it often.

3. Go out on dates regularly. Enjoy each other’s company. Hold hands, be romantic. Make your times together special. Don’t let anything get in the way. She/he is worth it!

4. Look for concrete ways to serve each other selflessly. One of the biggest reasons marriages turn stale is because we become self-absorbed. The best way out of that downward spiral is to serve your spouse lovingly, joyfully and selflessly. Do it!

5. Listen to each other attentively. Listen to each other actively: maintain eye contact, eliminate distractions, employ empathy and great non-verbals. Listen to her/him attentively and caringly. A tip for you husbands, your wife will often share problems with you that you can’t fix, so don’t try to fix them. Simply love her, reassure her, hold her and tell her things will be alright.

6. Pray with each other. Guys, take the lead on this. Look for and step into opportunities to pray with each other. In this way you’ll grow in your relationship with God together. Thank God for the wonderful gift of your wife in her hearing. Make most of these prayers short and sweet!

©2009 Rob Fischer