Many years ago, an older friend of mine gave me some advice that I’ve kept close to my heart ever since. He said “if you think about who you were 10 years ago and made a list of what was important to you, what you absolutely knew to be “THE RIGHT WAY” to do things, what kinds of things demanded your time, money and attention — how much of that original list is still in your top 10 today?” As a young man, this revelation floored me. I learned that there is wisdom in taking a big ol’ slice of humble pie and recognizing that I need to take a step back and get a perspective outside of my tunneled view. I can’t possibly know everything today, tomorrow, or in the years to come and my priorities are guaranteed to change.
Now, that’s not to say that everything is relative and that nothing is for certain. There are some things that are not meant to change. God does not change. His nature does not change. God’s Word is not meant to change. Even in the physical world, there are constants. Water will always boil at 100 degrees C (given the same atmospheric and gravitational conditions). With every action there will be an equal and opposite reaction.
People react very differently to Change. Some people love change and even get agitated when things stay stagnant for too long. Other people are afraid to death of any kind of change and will fight it tooth and nail. Politicians play on our love or fear of Change all the time (Obama’s CHANGE campaign vs. H.W. Bush’s STAY THE COURSE message).
Today, I turned 39. The last year of my 30’s has begun. Aside from an unexpected trip to the hospital for our youngest boy last night, this day has been like any other for me (he’s fine now.) But recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Change.
I’ve been thinking about the seasons of life. Right now, my oldest daughter is 12. Before I know it, she’ll be driving a car. A sneeze later, and she’ll be thinking about college.
Right now, we have one more child still in diapers.Pretty soon, he’ll be potty trained.And then I’ll NEVER have to change another diaper again (well, until we have grandkids). I still have boys that need to have their noses wiped, laundry folded and put away, dinner cut into small bite-sized pieces, and taught how to read and write. But hopefully someday, I won’t have to tell them to clean their rooms every night, clear the table after meals, or hold hands when we’re walking in the street.
I’m in the middle stages of my career. If I were looking for work, I’d go right past all of the entry-level positions and look to middle / senior management roles. Someday, I have aspirations of getting to that Executive level / CFO or CEO job. I’ve also thought about starting my own business someday, though I’m not all that creative. Maybe I can find a partner with an idea that just needs someone to make the numbers work.
This year has really been a politically and philosophically revolutionary time for me. My whole life, I’ve been a hard-lined political conservative. Or so I thought. Economically speaking, I’ve always been a libertarian though I honestly thought more conservatives were as well. With each book I read, video I watch, and discussion I have with friends, I am Changing many notions and ideals that were once sacred cows.
Even the way I view the church and my faith has Changed over the decades. Before moving to Texas, my family and I had bounced around to several different churches. We’ve done everything from the Willow Creek-Mega Church Wanna Bes to Home Churching. We’ve been in churches that worshiped with guitars and drums to organs and hand bells to nothing but the sounds of our voices. We’ve been to churches where babies are baptized with a sprinkle on the head to adults being fully immersed during the formal worship. We’ve been in churches that have children participating in the worship service to places where the ushers insisted that our children be dropped off in Sunday School (because, as he put it, ‘we wouldn’t want the Enemy to use them to distract the Worshippers.’ SERIOUSLY! Did that guy just accuse my children of being agents of Satan?!?)
So many times, Christians miss out on the fellowship, encouragement, and rejoicing together in our common faith because of the lines we like to draw in the sand. We are quick to point to a single verse to ‘prove’ our preferences (not Biblical doctrine) and thus cast out brothers and sisters who don’t always agree with us.
As I look at the road ahead of me, I can’t help but consider all of the things I wished I could go back and undo on the road behind me. There were times I could have shown mercy where I chose not to in order to be “right”. There were times I neglected my responsibilities because I was lazy or distracted. There were people that I overlooked who were right in front of my nose because I could only see their outside appearance.
My birthday wish is that the church will embrace the Change that we need – not sacrificing Biblical Truth or a single letter of the Scriptures, but recognizing when the fight is over what we like rather than what God demands.
I’ll close with one thought. There’s a song called You Are My All in All that I absolutely love. When I’m singing it, I can pour out my heart in worship to God.
Before we moved to TX, this is the closest version to what I was accustomed to singing.
This version most closely resembles how we sing it in our church today (notice not only the a capella, but also the tempo has picked up).
And yet, there’s another version below.
All three versions of the same song may draw worship out of some, incite anger out of others, and passivity or indifference in still others.
Is there a RIGHT way to sing this song? Is it possible for me to Change from one to the next? And more importantly, will God be honored and pleased?