When the Monsoon Winds of Change Blow

I spent the morning doing a little bit of cleaning, putting away Halloween decor and getting out Thanksgiving decor. While I was doing that I was thinking about what to do with this Faith post. My life has never been one of discipline or routine. My spouse is a college instructor, so every semester the schedule changes. We homeschooled our two girls all the way through high school so that schedule changed in accordance with my spouse’s. There were times when Mark had several evening classes, so we would have our main meal together at lunch time. Other times, the girls and I would fend for ourselves, knowing dad wouldn’t be home until 9 or 10 at night. In addition to that all of our family is out of state. Holidays, spring breaks and summers were often littered with trips to see Grandmas and Grandpas, uncles, cousins and friends.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Change is not a bad thing. Often, change can be exciting and something we look forward to with anticipation. Unfortunately, change can also be something that fills us with dread and despair. In just a few short weeks, my position as assistant manager of a university bookstore will be over. It was a position I grew into, as I started working when my girls were just little. I went from sales clerk, to general merchandiser, to shipping and receiving clerk, to assistant manager. I made the transition working part time, so I could still homeschool our girls and more recently help out with our grandson.

Pixabay - shop door

I had hoped that I could take a few months off, get my thoughts together and get through the holidays without the added stress of learning a new job, having a new schedule, blending with new coworkers and on and on the change comes. However, that is not the case. I have to find another job, so I am applying for something seasonal.

Image by  Andi Graf  from  Pixabay

Image by Andi Graf from Pixabay

Part of the reason, I am writing this is to work through the situation myself. Losing a job is like losing someone close to you. You didn’t get to have a say in when it happened, it just happened. You didn’t get to determine, what that change or that end would look like, it just ended. So here I am. I’m 55 and not sure what the next step is, other than to keep stepping.

There is a passage of Scripture that seems especially pertinent to my situation today, and maybe will speak to you as well.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:26-39 (ESV)

There are several key points that we can pull from this passage.

1 - Someone is praying for us.

Verses 26 and 27 plainly state that the Spirit intercedes for us. I love this. To know that someone is praying for me and not just praying but interceding with “groanings too deep for words.” Have you ever noticed when life is overwhelming it is also often confusing as well. In addition, knowing what God is trying to do through or in a situation is more often than not beyond our ability to understand. There are times I find myself saying, “Lord, I don’t even know how to pray.” That is how I have felt over the last few months as I have looked down the pike to losing my job. Sure, my heart would like to pray that everything would go smoothly and that I wouldn’t have to get another job right away. I want to be able to enjoy the holidays and not have them messed up with a new schedule and the stress of learning a new job. But, my mind is also praying for a new job as soon as possible. I have also entertained the idea, that maybe God would just like me to really trust Him. Ha, ha. It is exactly in this state of confusion that my prayers often hit the ceiling and go no further, so it is very reassuring to me that the Holy Spirit is praying for me and He is praying according to the will of God. Pure and simple.

Image by  Couleur  from  Pixabay

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

2 - Things will work out.

It would be nice to say, that things will work out, exactly as we had hoped and expected, but reality says that is rarely the case. However, according to verse 29, things will work for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose. That may sound a little confusing, as though we have to figure out what God’s purpose is. The fact of the matter is, all we have to do is be present. Whatever the circumstance or difficulty, God will work it out and you can be sure it will be for your best and my best, because His will is always for our best. Our minds are limited in what we are able to see as being best, but from personal experience, I can say, it is only when I am completely submitting to Him and whatever path or direction He’s leading me that I have complete peace. That path may be wretchedly difficult, but He is walking it with us and the end result will be good.

Image by  SplitShire  from  Pixabay

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

3 - We are known, called, justified and glorified.

Verses 29 and 30 pack a big punch. There is a lot going on in these two verses, and rather than delving into each word individually, just know that we are pretty darn important to our Creator. I am also not going to get into a discussion on predestination versus free will. My heart believes that both are possible and that God is the only one who needs to understand how it works. That is good enough for me. The fact that He knew us from the beginning, He called us to Himself, He justified us through His Son Jesus Christ, and He will glorify us at the resurrection with new bodies, reiterates the amazing love of this being we call Jehovah. The complexity of this relationship with an Almighty being becomes clearly simple when we believe that everything He does is done for our benefit.

Image by  Stefan Kuhn  from  Pixabay

Image by Stefan Kuhn from Pixabay

4 - God is for us.

This needs little explanation. The only thing you have to do is believe it!

5 - God will provide.

God, who did not spare His own Son, Jesus, for our benefit, will provide all that we need. Note, I did not say all that we want, but all that we need. What we are responsible to do is figure out, what is it, that we really need. Food, clothes, love, security. Think about people who have been persecuted, tortured or neglected, yet still survived and even thrived regardless of the adversity. What is it that we really need? Only to abide with Him.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

6 - We are secure.

Verses 33 through 35, and 38 through 39, reassure us of our firm foundation in Christ. No one can separate us from Him or His love. We can be persecuted, neglected, overwhelmed, or in despair, but still He is will us. We might be losing our jobs, our spouses, our families, our homes, our health, but still He is will us and we are secure in His hands.

7 - We are conquerors in Him.

Verses 36 and 37, give us the kick in the pants we need, when we become self focused. When change is coming and the future is uncertain we can easily begin to look inward thinking things like, we’ll never get through this, we can’t do this one more day, we aren’t good enough or other such thoughts that take our focus off the one through whose hands every circumstance trickles. We can become anxious, self-absorbed and begin to invite friends to our pity party, but that is not what God wants for us. Verse 37 says, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Think about your favorite super hero movie. How did they get through the battles with bad guys, aliens and monsters? They conquered. They conquered their fear and they conquered the enemies. We have an Almighty, All Powerful God on our side. We can be conquerors too, in Him.

Image by  Joanny Liu  from  Pixabay

Image by Joanny Liu from Pixabay



Seasons Come and Seasons Go

We go through seasons in life, just like the earth goes through seasons as it travels around the sun. Spring, summer, fall and winter, all have their presence on the earth, even though they can look quite different depending on where you live. I follow a few fashion bloggers who are based in Australia and it is winter there. It seems odd to see them talk about enjoying their sweaters and heavier weight outfits, even though their pictures still show sunshine and no snow!

Pixabay

Pixabay

Seasons in our lives can manifest themselves differently for each person. When you are a young adult, you might be going to college, checking out the party scene and figuring out what you want to do with your life. I wasn't a partier. I was studious, but I also liked to go out to eat with my friends and walk the streets of Chicago down to Lake Short Boulevard and the beach or State Street and the Gold Coast. That season of my life, helped shape who I am. I met my husband during that season and discovered I was more interested in getting married than in becoming a missionary overseas.

Pixabay

Pixabay

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NASB)

After college, my husband and I got married and it wasn't long until we started a family. I wish when I had been in the throes of that season of life, I would have had an older woman come along side of me and tell me, "This is just a season. Before you know it, in the blink of an eye, your children will be grown and gone. Enjoy it while you can." So often when we are in a particular season of life, we think, "When will this be over? When will it get easier?" The problem with that mind set is that we miss so much. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

The writer of Ecclesiastes was Solomon, considered the wisest king of all time. I think he pretty much summed up the complexity and simplicity of life in those first eight verses of chapter 3. He knew that every season would come to an end and be replaced by another season, which would then be replaced by another season, and so on, and so on.

What season of life do you find yourself in right now? Is is a time of planting or a time of uprooting? Is it a time of laughter or a time of weeping? Or is is a time of being silent or a time of speaking boldly? The inevitability is, the season you now find yourself in will change. How do we handle the seasons we are in and the busyness and difficulties that come with each of those. 

1. Recognize that it is God who changes the seasons.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;
— Genesis 1:14 (NASB)

God, the Creator, is the One who designed the seasons to change. We often think that fall and winter must be a result of the fall, but it says in the above verse that God's intention from the beginning was an earth that changed on a regular basis. So many of us don't like change, but change is a part of God's plan. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

2. Don't be afraid of the changing seasons.

There is plenty to fear in the world we live in. Watch the news on a regular basis and you'll get a boat load of fodder for an anxiety storm. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
— 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

I grew up reading the King James Version of the Bible. I decided to use the New King James Version as it is the one most true to the version I memorized. Many versions use the word timidity instead of fear. I am not a Bible scholar so I am not here to argue which version is closer to a word for word translation. I prefer the word fear, because I feel it is closest to what we feel on a regular basis. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

I am preaching to the choir here, friends. I regularly have to combat my fears. I don't think that fear is wrong, but I do believe that dwelling there or as Timothy put it, having a "...spirit of fear..." is not what God wants for us. I am sure the numbers of people in our country who are taking anti-anxiety meds is staggering. Yet, what is anxiety but a fear - fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear of death, fear of illness, fear of any and everything you can imagine. 

It is normal to face fear, when the seasons of our lives are changing. It is scary to face an illness like cancer or the death of a spouse or child. It is terrifying to lose your long time job and have to suddenly be out there looking for a new position in a sea of people in their 20's. Yet, God knows these seasons are changing and as the Psalmist realized, we are precious to Him. 

Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
— Psalm 17:8 (NASB)

3. Look for beauty in each season.

Every season that comes and goes has something about it that I love. Spring ushers in new growth, returning birds and an explosion of green. Summer abounds with laughing, playing children, a chorus of lawn mowers and the clinking sounds of glasses filled with iced tea and lemonade. Fall, which is perhaps my favorite, throws an amazing party of color and smells during which the trees undress themselves as they prepare for winters' long sleep. Winter, in areas of snow becomes a white backdrop for red sleds and even redder noses and cheeks. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

Yes, every season has its difficulties. Spring can be full of torrential rains and often the temps don't climb as high as we would like. Summer can be a time of drought and the ebb and flow of crowds vacationing and squeezing in to fairs and summer festivals. Fall brings early darkness and winter seems akin to the time of the dead, especially for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

However, just as any transition in life brings change we need to focus on all that is lovely and beautiful, even in the sterility of a hospital room or the stifling sadness of a funeral home. Where else in the world can we get 24 hour quality care? The sadness of loss also brings with it the memories of lives journeyed together and moments of love and laughter. A diagnosis of long term illness allows us the opportunity to stand before our Creator and claim the promises He gave us in His word, that He would never leave us or forsake us and that He would give us peace and strength. 

Beauty exists in the form of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and He never changes, no matter what season we are in.

4. Have patience.

Remember what Solomon pointed out in those verses? The seasons change. Our lives are in constant flux. Knowing that God is orchestrating our circumstances allows us to lean back on His strong arms and wait for Him to do what He is going to do. The sooner we realize the reality of this next  two verses, the better. 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
— Romans 8:28 (NASB)
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

God is at work and will never give up on us! Isn't that amazing? It drives me to my knees to realize that the Almighty God who created us from dust, loves that same said dust to the point of sacrificing His only Son, Jesus, so we might be able to have a relationship with Him.

I don't know what season you are in. I hope it is a season of reaping and praising and planting, but if it is a season of tearing apart, war and great weeping, don't forget He is with you. Always and forever. 

The Winds of Change

We all know change is inevitable. With the coming of fall, my mind often turns towards the changes that are beginning to take place. We see the changes all around us in the yellow school buses that are back in traffic, the grass dressed in morning housecoats of dew, plants beginning to wilt and fade and leaves starting their colorful descent towards life's end. Most of us enjoy these changes. Moms with school age children are usually ready to resume the routines associated with their children being back at school. Homeowners look forward to putting away the lawnmowers and trimmers for the long winter season and those of us who love nature look forward to the colorful display of potted mums and changing leaves. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay

fall

Change can also be very scary.

There, I said it. You know it is true. Many changes are not looked forward to like those I listed above. Change can involve pain, volatile emotions and overwhelming shadows of the unknown. Anyone facing the difficult changes of a divorce, a long term disability or illness or the loss of a loved one, know that change can take on a very different appearance. Instead of looking exciting and enjoyable, change looks lonely and terrifying. So how can we embrace change, even when it is difficult?

Know that God did not intend for things to stay the same.

In our relationship with Christ, God the Father has an ultimate plan, our growth and development as His children. You knew when you had children, the ultimate goal was to nourish and take care of them so they could, ultimately, take care of themselves. Most parents look forward to the day they can see their child go off to college or get married, or move to start a new job. They never intended their children stay with them forever. An attitude like that, would not only be difficult on the marriage, but it would be extremely limiting for the child. They need to grow and become the individuals they were meant to be. 

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
— Philippians 2:1-3 (NASB)

God did not intend we stay the same. Life is all about change. Many changes we have absolutely no control over. However, we do have control over ourselves and our attitudes towards those changes. Every time we choose to have the mind of Christ, rather than feeling sorry for ourselves or becoming anxious, we grow and become more like Him.

Know that God is with you through the change.

Going through change can be extremely lonely. I am sure there are times when you are encountering change that you don't feel at liberty to share your burdens with other people. These are the times to remember His is with you. He will never leave you.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
— Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

Did you ever really look at that verse? God commanded...you heard me right. God commanded that Joshua not be afraid, that he be strong and courageous. Isn't He commanding us to do the same thing when our lives are chaotic with change? Because he is with us, we can do it. 

I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You...
— Isaiah 42:6(a) (NASB)

Know that God will give you the strength to get through it.

Going through difficult changes can be exhausting, especially if the change has to do with physical distress or limitations. Emotional changes can also leave us feeling drained. Many times when we are encountering change we have a harder time sleeping, eating and just doing the normal every day routine. However, routine is important, especially when your life is in upheaval. Try to wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, eat when you need to eat, brush your teeth, get dressed and so on.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

God is capable. When I get to the point where life just won't let up, I find myself returning to this verse in Philippians over and over. I claim it. I bring my fatigue and distress to the Lord and simply say, "Lord, your word says, 'I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.' I claim that promise now and trust You to give me the strength I need to keep going." You know what? He has never failed me. He always gives me the strength to get through the changes that are going on in my ever rocking world. 

That strength may not always be physical. You might be flat on your back in the hospital, but He will give you the strength mentally and emotionally to deal with those changes. Remember, it is all about Him. He will give you strength because He is the one who will be glorified as you get through the winds of change.