I’m back . . . . Three days ago I wrote a very brief post wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2013 and said I was going to take a breather from blog writing. Well, it lasted three whole days!!! Actually, it lasted eight days as my last blog post with a topic, “Lighting Our Path,” was published on December 11, 2012. I guess eight days was long enough! My fingers were typing in my sleep so I got the hint.
Christmas is only a few days away now, and yet another new year is about to enter the picture. I don’t know about you, but the years are going by way too fast. They always did, but lately they give “zoom” new meaning. And every new year brings another opportunity for change.
There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, “You’ve Got Mail” (1998) with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the starring roles as Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly, where Kathleen’s “Shop Around the Corner,” a children’s bookstore on the upper west side of Manhattan, is closing after 42 years (it was originally opened by her mother and Kathleen inherited it when her mother died) because the mega-bookstore, “Fox Books,” opened up around the corner from her shop. Shortly after the Christmas holiday Kathleen made the decision to close the store due to dwindling business caused by the opening of Fox Books, and in an email to a man she met online in an “over-thirty” chat room earlier in the fall (who turns out to be Joe but at this point in time she don’t know his real identity) she wrote the following: “People are always telling me that change is a good thing, but what they are really saying is that something that they didn’t want to happen at all has happened.”
When I look back at all the changes I’ve gone through in my life (sometimes I feel like that proverbial cat with nine lives), my favorite changes were those I was able to choose (e.g., joining the U.S. Army, going to college, going to grad school, moving to Florida, etc.), and the worst were those that were forced on me (e.g., like being fired from my job in April 2009 that has lead to this rather lengthy time of unemployment). For the most part, I’ve always been a fan of change as I get restless if I do the same thing for too long (except, of course, writing, but then there are a million things out there to write about so it never gets boring). But even “bad” change can be “good” in the end as was the case in Joseph’s life in Genesis when his brothers, years earlier, did some truly horrible stuff to him, and then, years later, they had to come to him for help and were terrified (you can read the entire story here). Joseph stated to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). What was originally a horrible change for Joseph turned out for good later on not only for him but for his entire family.
It’s encouraging to know that even “bad” change can work for our good, because God never changes (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17), and as the Apostle Paul stated in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And if we truly love Him and have been called according to His purpose, that includes all the ugly stuff that has happened to us as well as the good.
When I look back over these past four years (actually, five years as the beginning of this “adventure” in my life started on December 7, 2007, when I learned that my division at my former place of employment in Florida was being dismantled which lead me to apply for the position in Houston in May 2008), I see some dramatic changes that have taken place in my life–for the good–despite the fact that I am still unemployed at this point in time. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, I’ve mentioned many of those changes.
Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform any longer 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.” Now that’s a change that is good for us, but it’s hard to follow especially in our American culture with every imaginable excess available 24/7. We get bogged down in the mire and hardly even notice it. Little compromises eventually turn into detrimental changes especially if we let the Bible and it’s wisdom take a back seat in our lives as well as our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
By the time I landed in Houston to start that ill-fated job in September 2008 I was about as bogged down in my spiritual life as I had ever been (and I’m not talking about “church attendance,” either). Regular Bible study was sporadic at best and I never even thought that much about the whole issue of spiritual warfare in the believer’s life. The cares of this world had taken over, but I also noticed that the cares of this world had also taken over most of the other folks I knew, too. And we were all Christians. We had left our first love (Rev. 2:4) and allowed the cares of this world (worry, materialism, greed, gossip, envy, jealousy, judging others, anger, bitterness, etc.–that list is long) to take over, and we wanted the things in this world along with the attitudes of this world more then we wanted Him. Oh, we’d never admit that or perhaps really believe it but our actions and attitudes and lifestyles spoke volumes. And so when I landed in Houston, I did an about-face and started taking Bible study and my relationship with Jesus Christ very seriously on a daily basis. And I could feel the fresh wind of the Spirit begin to permeate my life again during one of the hardest work experiences in my life. When I lost that job seven months later, I knew He was right there to guide me not only during those difficult seven months but when the bottom dropped out when I was fired. And He’s been guiding me and changing me ever since. My world has opened up in ways I never could have imagined had I not decided to get out of the spiritual lethargy I found myself in by taking that first step to give Him quality time every morning before I did anything else (and yes, that meant I had to get up an hour or so earlier then normal and give Him that totally undivided time from the rest of my day).
In short, I’ve been cleaning up my act from all the mire that bogged me down in the first place. Didn’t say I am perfect at it and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but I’ve been changed from the inside out over these past four plus years. The words of the Apostle Paul in Phil. 3:12-14 (MSG) state, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
And neither am I . . . .
How about you?
YouTube Video: “Back in the High Life Again” (1986) by Steve Winwood:
Photo credit here