This post is a the written version of a devotional I had the privilege of sharing with the staff and worship team at C3 Church in Clayton, NC, which is where I have the privilege of serving. It's a little long, but it is very dear personal to me, so I pray it encourages you as well!
As I prayed through this, one title kept coming to my mind and that is, "Open To Change." It's no secret that God is making changes in my life as He opens new doors for me with music, and of course we all have experienced change here at church recently with staff changes and season changes. Change can be exciting but it isn't easy for most people, or at least it's not easy for me. If we're not closely connected to God, change can bring confusion, division, sadness, and could even send us down pathways of mental challenges such as depression.
But change is just part of life. Some change is little and some change is big. God changes us on the inside, and we're thankful for that. So we ought to expect that God changes things on the outside as well.
When I first started preparing this devo, I hadn't yet put 2 and 2 together that it'd take place right after the first week of our "At The Movies" series and, ironically, it was through a movie that God caught my attention and spoke this to me.
Anyone heard of or seen the movie, Open Season?
It's a kids' movie, and it's really sweet and hilarious!
In this movie, the main character is a grizzly bear named Boog. The story begins with Boog living large in the town of Timberline. He lived in his caretaker Beth's garage with a little bed and stuffed teddy bear, had all his meals handed to him, and loved his life. For a bear, he had it made. He was essentially living as person, he even had a job in the entertainment industry!
Then, through a series of circumstances mostly outside of his control, it all changed and suddenly Boog found himself alone in the middle of the forest just before hunting season. Almost the entire movie is about Boog the bear trying to get out of nature and back to his happy life in Timberline and the ups and downs and all the hurdles that he has to face! But through that journey, he eventually realizes that there in the forest was where he was actually meant to be all along. He had been so focused on getting back to what he knew that he didn't realize that this is what he was made for.
I wonder how often we do that. We find ourselves in a season of change, where things we once held so tightly and loved so dearly are taken away, and all we want to do is fight tooth and nail to get everything back to the way it was. Back to our sense of normal or comfortable. I admit that, right now, that's me most days.
But I would like to propose... what if, in all the changing, God is putting us exactly where He wants us to be? Into the exact spot we were made for?
We all know Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
We see this concept of God orchestrating a story through so much of scripture. The first example that comes to mind is that of Joseph. God gave Joseph a dream. Something real and powerful that he couldn't help but share. However, in order to get Joseph to where he needed to be, God took him on a journey of ups and downs
So, I felt that God has given me a few specific points of how to keep ourselves open to change along this crazy journey of life.
1. TRUST GOD
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight"
When God knocks on the door of my life and heart, wanting to do something new, I want to be the person that says "Yes, Lord. Come on in. Do whatever you'd like" and then actually lets that happen.
2. OBEY HIS VOICE AND HIS WORD
Most people are not a huge fan of the word "obey", myself included. I have ideas in my mind of how I think things should go or what I believe is the best course of action for almost every scenario in my life, and everyone else's lives, of course. But, in the end, I am responsible for my own level of obedience to God. It's easy to rationalize obedience away, or justify disobedience. We can even do those things and make them sound spiritual
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
3. LET YOURSELF CRY
For a while I thought I always had to be the strong one. I couldn't remember crying at all for many years since my early teens. Maybe some of you feel that way, but I think it's just common sense to say "be real." Some of my most healing moments have come as I've cried in Martha's office, or even just in private crying out to God. One of my favorite things that I often hear Pastor Matt say is that "tears are from the Holy Spirit." However, I want to remind you that it's good to let our emotions out, but sadness doesn't last forever!
"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning"
Almost exactly a year ago, Pastor Matt cast the vision that this 20th year of C3 would be a year of open hands. That stuck with me and I think that this has definitely been a year of open hands for me... maybe just not in all the ways I expected. I've had to hold things like my house, my family, my car, my friends and more with open hands. And I've watched God both give and take away. But I am so thankful for the journey God has brought me on, and the journey He's bringing us on as a church. I pray God always gives me the perspective to be thankful while He's working changes in and around me.
I encourage YOU to take inventory of what you're thankful for and, if you're in the middle of some change, remember that God is working!
Have an amazing day. You are AWESOME!