You gotta Cooperate with Change

Change_ExitSignI’m tired. Not physically, but mentally, maybe a bit emotionally. And I know why. I’ve deliberately put myself in a place requiring a change in my attitudes, in my perspective, in my limited world-view. It’s part of the “Radical Acceptance” journey. But I’ll tell you what: change is tiring. It can be exhausting. And part of me really just wants to back out, withdraw to my former comfort zone, and find some peace.

Peace is good. But it’s a state of mind, not a goal. I mean, if we seek to always “find” peace, we’ll never put ourselves in any kind of stressful situation — situations that cause us to grow. Instead, we’re supposed to stretch ourselves, step outside our immediate and little lives, and wrestle with life. It’s in the struggles that we discover our true character, and it’s only after a great struggle that we can really appreciate our victory. And somehow, by holding God’s hand through the struggle, through the unsettling changes, there we find peace and security. He is there with us in it all, and we can always fall back on his love and support even when everything around us is being shaken up. We find peace in him, not necessarily in our circumstances.

So, I can’t back out. I can’t go back to my familiar church, to comfy environments, and non-threatening people. I’ve whined too often in the past (at least in my prayers) about wanting change, wanting something new, to see God’s love for real and to experience his power and his presence outside just my prayer closet. People who work with the poor and oppressed, the Mother Teresa types, often talk about finding Jesus in the faces of those they serve. I’m not in their league. I haven’t put myself out that far. I’m just stretching a LITTLE right now. And I’ve met some truly wonderful people, people with genuine hearts of gold, people who care, and who desire to serve God and their fellow human beings. Along with them, I’ve met some who are a little rough around the edges, and I often seem to slice my fingers a little on those edges. But hey, I’m no well-polished saint by any means either, and I know some them have grimaced at some of my comments, been abrased by my rough edges. Guess we’re in a mutual blood bath right now. Eventually, I expect, calluses will form on both sides, and we’ll get used to each other. But for now, I just have to gut it out. Hey, if they can put up with me, I can certainly learn to accommodate some of them. Who knows? When I can truly walk in that “radical acceptance”, when I can genuinely love people without wanting to trim off the edges that grate me the wrong way, or recast them in my own image, I may actually become of some use or make some kind of real contribution.

My mom sent an email today, commenting on Oswald Chamber’s remark that “No amount of enthusiasm (worked up zeal) will ever stand up to the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His servant.”  She said that a desire to serve God is not enough to keep us going, nor will our lives demonstrate a real love of God. Our desire alone will not be able “to stand the strain” that Christ puts upon His disciples. We need a revelation of Him, who He is, and what He has done for the sin problem in our lives. We need the Holy Spirit moving and working within us, motivating us. In other words, we can’t do it in our own strength.

And I guess that’s where I’m at right now. I was motivated by my desire to see a change in my life, to actually make a difference in this world and in the lives of people around me. I wanted to be an agent for the Kingdom, a useful tool in God’s hands to help his people. And prompted by a little revelation that I needed to learn how to love people as they are (not as how I’d like them to be), I’ve stepped out a little, and moved into a circle where I see God at work, where I know his heart is. But God’s work can be ugly sometimes — at least to us. It’s definitely got its challenges. And I’ve gone as far as my own “desire” can take me. I need to experience the master’s hand recrafting my heart, touching my mind, opening my eyes. I need the Holy Spirit working within me before he can effectively work through me. I’m gonna need his strength to get me through to where he wants me, to where he can use me. Because I’m tired. Change is hard, and sometimes I just don’t want to exert the energy.

But nothing worth anything ever comes easily. Change takes guts. Success, achievement, and a fulfilling life don’t come to those who sit comfortably on the sidelines. If you want to make a real difference, you gotta stop resisting the stretching, and cooperate with the change. Even when you’re tired. Reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said when he was worn out: “when I am weak, then am I strong.”  I’m on a new road now, changing lanes from ones that point to familiarity, comfort and security, to ones that lead to new horizons, increased usefulness, and greater personal fulfillment.  I’m taking the exit out of familiar territory.  And yeah, it’s a little taxing.  A little more demanding.  But the “same ole, same ole” just isn’t working for me anymore.  And I’m really curious to see where this road takes me.  I’m gonna need more of God’s strength to see me through some of the turns ahead, but I guess that’s not a bad road to be on after all.

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