No one really likes change – we’re a comfy kind of people. But unfortunately, the winds of change are always inevitable one way or another.
Forced or chosen
When we’re growing up, changes and transitions are often forced upon us and we don’t have any choice in the matter. We have to move from primary school to intermediate school to high school. We have to leave high school and decide what to do next. If we decide to go to university, our paths of study eventually come to a natural end as well and we then have to make a decision about the next change and stage of life.
Over the past few years though, I’ve been learning that part of being an adult is knowing when to initiate a change for the greater good, even when we don’t necessarily have to.
Realising that a change needs to be made
There are small things that we don’t like to change, like waking up at the same time each morning, eating the same types of food every day, and watching the same things on television, even though making a change to our routine would be better for our mind and body.
And then there are the big things that we make choices about, like living in the same city and the same house forever, working at the same job, or having the same kinds of relationships with friends, family, or significant others. Even when we know that our routines and current situations are no longer working for us, sometimes we want to stay there because we want to avoid going through the often painful and awkward transition, or we’re just paralysed with fear.
For most young adults, there does come a moment of realisation. We’ve done all our formal education, and we’ve had the same routine, the same job, the same flat or living situation, the same hobbies, and the same friends for a few years. All of a sudden, it dawns on us that if we want our situation to change and don’t want to keep things as they are, we have to make that brave call and choose to initiate it for ourselves.
The downside of waiting for the Holy Spirit
This is where being a Christian can sometimes hinder us more than help us though. Our default is to wait for the Holy Spirit’s prompting, but when we think we sense it, instead of going ahead, we then wait some more while we question, consider, and wait for numerous other confirmations before acting on anything. We’re so scared to do anything that might not be what God is telling us to do, so we just sit and wait instead until we can be double and triple sure. But what if our default was to act straightaway on what we sensed was the Holy Spirit’s leading, and then trust that God will stop us and close the door if we heard wrong?
Bob Goff shares a similar picture in his book, Everybody, Always, where he suggests that we like to wait for God to give us ten green lights before deciding that we heard God correctly and going ahead with the action. But what if God only gives us three green lights and He wants us to trust him that three is enough? Goff says, "God may not give us all the green lights we want, but I’m confident He gives us all the green lights He wants us to have at the time.” Will we hold off on going ahead, always waiting for those extra green lights that will never come?
Living a life that follows Jesus sometimes means taking a step of faith and getting out of the boat even when things still look a bit uncertain. After all, Psalms chapter 119 verse 105 says that “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”, not a blazing huge floodlight.
God doesn’t show us the whole journey ahead, but he gives us just enough for the next step so that we have to step out and trust him. That is true relationship, and the kind of relationship that God wants with us – a relationship based on trust.
So will we jump and trust God to open and close the right doors, or will we sit around for literally years waiting for that magic sign or that tenth green light?
Maybe it’s time to initiate change, to take that jump even though things don’t perfectly line up, and trust that our all-seeing and all-knowing God will step in and sustain us to go ahead or intervene to draw us back.
Rebecca Howan is from Wellington, New Zealand, where she works as an Executive Assistant in the humanitarian sector. She worships and serves at The Salvation Army, and is passionate about music, travelling the world and building community.
You can read Rebecca’s previous columns at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rebecca-howan.html