Change is in the air. Can’t you almost smell it?
Excepting the Southern Hemisphere, of course, green leaves are changing to golden, orange, brown, and flaming red. Days are changing; they’re getting shorter. Nights are changing; they’re getting longer. The air is changing; it’s getting cooler, crisper.
How do you feel about change? Do you welcome it or dread it?
There Is a Time for Everything
As the poet said in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything under heaven. Like it or not, that requires change.
In the halcyon days of my Ozzie-and-Harriet, farm-girl childhood of the 1950s, I thought worries were for someone else. I couldn’t claim a single anxious thought. My life was beautiful, and I saw no reason to think it would change.
I was loved (adored, actually). Provided for. Kept safe. Healthy. Happy. Worry-less.
Mother, who had prayed for me for years, considered my birth close to miraculous. (She had had 3 boys and thought she was doomed for remain girl-less.)
Strong, vibrant Daddy whose face lit up like the sun when he looked at me, carried me around until I lost my first tooth!
My brothers stepped aside for me. Humored me. Protected me. Soothed me.
In addition, I enjoyed every advantage. A bedroom of my own. New clothes at start of school, Christmas, Easter, and piano-recital time. Patent-leather shoes. Fancy purses. Hair ribbons, petticoats, dolls. Straight As. And friends galore.
Best of all, a little brother appeared on the scene, and I rocked a real-life baby to sleep.
Not a worry in the world.
Then things changed.
Out of the blue, first responders pulled one of my older brothers from his crushed car under an eighteen-wheeler. He lay in a coma for over a month. The whole town prayed, and we agonized.
Daddy dropped a bucket. Noticed one shoulder growing smaller. And couldn’t set his elbows on the table.
Suddenly, worry was no stranger.
Hail destroyed crops. So did the boll weevil and freezes. Crops failed. Machinery broke down. Accidents on the farm and the highway.
Consequetly, the family bank account dwindled, and homemade clothes appeared. No more vacations. Where would the money come from for 4-H projects? Formals? Costumes? Christmas and Easter and start of school? How would I afford college? And how would I get there?
Daddy worsened. His muscular body began wasting away. He couldn’t hold up his head up. Couldn’t drive. Could barely walk. Speaking challenged him. His fingers struggled to turn the pages of his Bible. And no diagnosis existed, not even at Mayo Clinic.
But I grew up anyway. And more change came.
I discovered worries of my own. Married to a college student, I wrote $1.00 checks. And discovered I was pregnant. Lost my teaching job (Pregnant women couldn’t teach in my neck of the woods in the 1960s.) Moved from a $75/month duplex into a $50/month clapboard farmhouse. $25 was a fortune.
My first baby died in his first day of life and was buried five days before Christmas. I was confined to bed for my second baby, who almost died in the hospital.
Cracks in my marriage.
My beloved Daddy died.
Whisked away to Germany as a military wife while still grieving, I got to know Christmas, birthdays, and holidays devoid of family. And a kind of aloneness I had never imagined.
Another pregnancy. Another months-long confinement. A breach delivery.
Cracks in my marriage widened. Conflict multiplied. Aloneness increased. Betrayal. Heartbreak. Fear. And shame.
Emergency surgery. And pain.
Alone. Afraid. Ashamed.
Jobless. Destitute. Heartbroken. Terrified.
Reaching for comfort not in the arms of the Lord but everywhere else.
Children thousands of miles away in body and spirit.
Alone. Afraid. Ashamed.
Then came a different wind of change. Like the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord picked me out of the miry clay and set me on my feet.
Learned the meaning of Grace.
Became a member of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. And made a vow: Jesus will be my first love.
Skies brightened. Fear dissipated. Shame scattered. And hope lived again.
Prayer and the Word became my daily bread.
Then I shook hands with an outgoing, servant-minded man at church. Single. God-loving. People-loving. And with a faith background that ran parallel to mine.
Marriage. Family. A growing, shared faith. Service. Loyalty. Devotion. Love.
So much love. Joy. Contentment. Peace.
Reflections on Change
As it turned out, the essential change rested in me. I don’t pretend to know how God uses change to make lives better, certainly not when disasters strike in the forms of natural disasters and human evil (or when I’m agonizing over the latest revision of my personal expectations). At those times, I’m as bewildered (and, at times, grief-stricken) as you. It’s only when I view those changes through the lens of hindsight clarified by the Word that the fuzzy lines begin to come into focus. Sometimes getting there is pain-filled beyond describing.
In the meantime, when unwanted change is in the air, I must trust my Lord’s goodness, wisdom, and love. I may hang onto my expectations as stubbornly as the last red oak leaf out back, but until I let go, the change God intends can die before it lives.
- Perhaps Job 38 can help.
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Or Ecclesiastes 3 might say it best for you.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to search and a time to give up; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.
- What about you?
For which changes are you grateful? Which do you fear? How have you learned to trust our Heavenly Father through pain-filled change?
~ ~ ~
Dear Lord, please teach us to trust You through life’s changes.
~ For Jesus’ sake