Oh, the delightfulness of March! Don’t even try to be noble – everyone is so done with the cold and panting for Spring. Hope rises again as surely as the warming temperatures. Living in a country with very distinct and dramatic seasons teaches you how to wrangle with the unrelenting stress of weather. When your whole existence revolves around it, you don’t really have a choice. Like it or not, change is hardwired into us; internally and externally.
As sentient beings, we dwell in an interesting paradox of aching for change while actually dreading it. The Cinderella dream that upgrade should be the natural flow of life is one we tenaciously cherish, but not surprisingly, experience teaches us the double-edged nature of transition. All too often, even our most ponderously weighted considerations and carefully crafted decisions can still fail to achieve our desire. Of course, we always hope for what is more advantageous, convenient or salubrious, but our hankering for change can also be a wanton and capricious vixen who seduces us to the dark side with little effort. Let’s be honest; how often have you found yourself completely dead-ended in an emotional or situational cul de sac of your own design, because you insisted on pushing things along? Struggling out in the cold of your own will, trying to navigate wise choices is a complex and crazy crap-shoot.
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every desire under heaven”. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) This is an absolute scriptural truth, but unless you are actually living in faithful trusting and submission to the river of God, trying to find real safety and prosperity seems an insurmountable challenge. The inexplicable thing is that even when you’re on a righteous path, there are revolutionary turns that can devastate you. Consider the kind of moment it was when Job was brought news of his flocks and family being destroyed by the agents of Satan. When you’re walking with God, you don’t expect the enemy to be able to exact this kind of landslide of desolation, but sometimes, for reasons inscrutable, God allows it. Bad things still happen to good people, as grossly unjust as this may seem.
On the bright side, one of the most unique stories of the Old Testament is the transformation that occurred to a bunch of lepers caught between a rock and a hard place. In 2 Kings 6:24-7:20, we read of a desperate time in Israel’s history when they were under siege from Syrian forces. Even the king and those protected within the walls of the city despaired of life, so you can imagine how bleak the prospects were for the outcast band of lepers, unprotected in the open fields. Realizing there was no point to enter the famine-paralyzed city even if they could, but in danger of starving or being killed by marauding soldiers, they come to the conclusion that the smartest tactic was simply for them to go into the camp of the enemy and surrender themselves. When they face the change forced upon them, they take the most rational course for resolution. Sometimes, your only option is to look death in the eye and stare it down.
If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” 2 Kings 7:4 NKJV
Their fatalistic courage is rewarded with an extra-ordinary result. Unbeknownst to them, in the previous night, the Lord has sent a terrorizing force; the noise of a great host in chariots and horses which has sent the enemy fleeing. As they enter the camp, they find it completely abandoned but stocked with all manner of provision, weapons and equipment; a completely unforeseen reversal of fortune! After their first flush of triumph and spoil-gathering, they release the city.
We don’t often experience change as astonishing and spectacular as the overnight victory of the lepers, but it’s critical to remember how able the Lord is to overturn the most unlikely of situations. He's the Change-Master. He is sovereign and when we feel lorded over by calamity, taxing conditions or the sheer weight of the odds stacked against us, this knowledge becomes our saving grace. He is good, and His lovingkindness endures forever. Despite the roller-coaster story-line in between, we’ve read the final chapters and we win! Never forget this! “Tell the righteous, it will be well with them!” (Isaiah 3:10). Life can pulverize us in its millstone of irresistible change, so we often need to retreat to this eye in the storm for reinvigoration. In all the inexorable crunch, the Lord changes times and seasons (Dan 2:21), but He Himself changes not (Mal 3:6). This is our anchor in the tempestuous vicissitudes we cannot possibly foresee. When we despair of ever emerging from difficult extended seasons, this is the confident light at the end of the tunnel we sprint towards.
Several years ago, while navigating a particularly brutal time of family contention, Mom and I were in despair as to how to proceed. Despite all our talking, reasoning, pondering and even praying, relationships were stalemated with no solution in sight. One day I noticed that Mom had posted a quote on the fridge as encouragement to herself, which said
“Just keep walking. Nothing lasts forever. The nature of life is change”. (source unknown)
One of the major fears of life is the fear of change, along with fear of the future. To relinquish control, even of the imagined variety is against our natural anima, so conquering these phobias reclaims a huge territory in our lives. Still struggling? Let the Master of the Change give you the victory.
If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service, I will wait, until my change comes. Job 14:14
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