-Rebecca Preston, MA, Spiritual Director
I am in the midst of change. Again.
One of the most consistent things in my life has been change. Moving here, moving there. New churches. New jobs. New people in my life. Constant change.
Here’s the latest story: My husband and I decided to sell our house. It’s a big house with several acres. We find that all we do is take care of the house and yard. Don’t get me wrong, we like doing those things, but it might be enjoyable to have the time to do other things away from the house. And our house is expensive. As we get closer to the retirement years, it seems a waste of money to keep pouring into this house. Plus, I recently took a new job that is an hour away. Not a terrible drive and my hours are flexible, but it would be nice to be closer.
However, since we put the house on the market four weeks ago….nothing. Only two couples have come to look at it.
A friend recently said to me, “Are you sure God wants you to move?”
Ummm. I think he does. Generally, I sense God wants us to live more simply, to be better with our finances, and not waste time. All of this is part of our decision to move.
Whenever I’m in this change space a familiar cycle begins: First, in a flurry of activity, we get the house ready to sell. I am hopeful and confident of God’s blessing on this step. But then there is the waiting (no showings), and we will not move until we sell this house. I pray for God to bring just the right person. I believe God will move in his time. However, soon enough I go on to the next step, I’m despairing, which leads to begging and bargaining.
As another friend of mine used to say, “We are so weak.”
It’s true. No matter how far I get in this spiritual journey, I’m laid low on the trust issue during difficult times.
For me, it always comes down to trust. Do I trust God to care for me? Do I trust He will lead me? Do I trust that all will come out for the good?
Trust is the basis of the Christian faith.
And trust is always a matter of, according to Dallas Willard in Life Without Lack, death to self.
In this book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is quoted with saying:
Self-denial means knowing only Christ, no longer knowing oneself. It means no longer seeing oneself, only him who is going ahead, no longer seeing the way which is too difficult for us. Self-denial says only: he is going ahead; hold fast to him.
Bonhoeffer has never been one to mince words, and he certainly is not in-sync with the popular belief of self-knowledge, self-actualization, and anything opposite of self-denial. But his words ring true to me.
My response to change is always, let’s get on with it! Why the waiting? But, as Bonhoeffer writes, God is going ahead of me. His timing is not my timing. His way for me may not be exactly how I picture what is in my future.
For me, it becomes a matter of managing my feelings through trust, of wanting His will before my own will.
I’m not sure I’ve ever mastered this, but lately I’ve tried several things to keep me focused on God’s good will.
There is nothing that soothes my soul as much as scripture. I’ve tried to use these scriptures whenever I am battered by insecurity. There are certain verses that have helped me in those difficult times when Satan is mercilessly poking me.
Currently I am meditating on Galatians 2:20 as I embrace the idea of self-denial:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Listening and watching for God.
I was driving to work recently, and while I was stopped for a red light I noticed for the first time that the City Mission to my right had a painted wall on one of their buildings. It was a verse from Deuteronomy 8:7:
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land-a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills.
Seeing this lightened my heart and gave me hope. I don’t know what God has in store for our next place of residence, maybe it will have water nearby or maybe not, but this spoke right to me. I wouldn’t have noticed it, if I wasn’t looking for God’s presence in my midst.
Bring others into the mess.
It is very clear from the New Testament that the fellowship of other Christians is extremely important to the state of a Christian’s journey of faith. The author of Hebrews particularly speaks to this in his letter. Look at Hebrews 3:13:
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Finding others who truly care for me and I can trust has been essential in getting through some of those days of impatience and uncertainty. I hope I have done the same for others when it was their turn to experience difficulties.
All of this leads me to a place of acceptance that God knows what He is doing. His ways are not my ways. I can’t hurry God. But I can adjust my attitude, with the help of God’s Spirit, towards the circumstances of my life. I know soon enough this too shall pass.