(Excerpt from forthcoming chapter "My view from the summit")
“Don't move the furniture!” Those were my late husband Ted's parting words whenever he left on a ministry trip out of town or out of the country. He claimed that each time he returned, if at night, he’d have to quickly turn on all the lights so he wouldn’t stumble over my latest urge to “change things around.”
They say that opposites attract. My husband was a Just leave it where it is! person. I’m a changer at heart. I love change—most any kind of good change, of course. I always did.
“That chair might look better over there.” or “Why not pull the table over by the window?” Or “Let’s try the sofa against the other wall.” “Let’s drive a different route home.” “Wait till you taste this new recipe.” I thrive on change. It isn't change only for the sake of change, however. It has to be change with a purpose.
My family knows my idiosyncrasy well. They got together and presented me with a surprise gift when I moved into my current house—a box of round shaped slider things of various sizes that have one slippery side and one sort of spongy side. They are meant to put under the legs of furniture so you can shove it around on the floor with hardly a push no matter how heavy the pieces may be. I am delighted! I’ve tried about every arrangement of furniture imaginable…oh, not quite. “Let’s try the recliner over there….”
I guess God knew what He was doing when He added the love of change to my DNA. I’ve traveled and lived and raised my family, and ministered in many places in the world; I’ve had to constantly adapt to new cultures and situations and people. My willingness to roll with the punches and weather unexpected happenings has stood me in good stead.
There are, however, changes over which we have no control. Whether we like change or not, we will all encounter many major and minor changes throughout the seasons of our lives. Changes are inevitable, continuous, and lifelong—whether physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, geographical, circumstantial, or relational. There is nothing as certain as change. It often hits us like a ton of bricks when we least expect it.
As much as I like material change-arounds, something within me is apprehensive of those intangible changes of life because of their uncertainty. As one grows older, the future seems like a vast unknown that holds nothing but “what ifs.” Changes are part of God’s maturing process to shape me into greater conformity to Jesus Christ. I miss rich blessings if I resist changes. I gain and progress when I accept them as new challenges. At the same time, I need to remain anchored in the Unchanging One, our Lord, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Why am I surprised to know that I grow through the unpredictable? Although I struggle through the disenchantments of change, they bring me to new reality and joy. It seems that through changes God deliberately sloughs off the old and familiar and underneath the crust I discover the fresh and new that has been waiting for me. In the shattering of a dream, I awaken to new visions.
Well then, I’m wrong to resist change, since it is my friend. Change is God’s instrument to teach me to bend with the wind and lean in another direction that He has planned for me. The wind will always blow, and storms will be inescapable. They will beat upon my life as in the parable that Jesus told about the two houses built on different foundations. Settled in Him, as I live on my summit, I need not be shaken or moved if I am built upon The Rock, not sand. My infrastructure, my eternal spirit, is reinforced by the indwelling Holy Spirit to withstand life’s shifting earthquake changes.
The changes of life are opportunities for me to bloom transplanted. Lord, help me welcome change as a clean slate, a fresh breath, a cool breeze, an untried path, and a stimulus to renewal! In the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, the ultra-capable, super-faith woman described there is said to “smile at the future.” Help me, Lord; I’d like to do that in my summit years. It requires Saint Faustina’s faith-filled affirmation and continual aspiration, Jesus, I trust in You!