One of the greatest challenges of our time is being able to stay focused in the middle of change. As people, we each have habits that are part of our everyday routine. These habits are a tradition for us and we love tradition. Tradition is what feels right to us and what we have grown accustomed to. So the moment change intersects with our tradition, we get caught off guard. We get taken aback with the idea that there is something that’s going to change our daily routine and it can potentially create a negative response. So, for my first challenge to you: Are you able to stay focused even if your life encounters change?
Take the disciples for example. For three years they walked, talked, and prayed with Jesus. They saw healings, miracles, and faith displayed daily. But as the scripture states, Jesus kept telling them change would come. Matthew 16:21 reads, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” For three years their daily routine consisted of all these glorious things from a Lord that they loved, but what is being communicated now is to get ready for a crazy big change. How do the disciples digest this bomb that Jesus just dropped? Could you imagine trying to stay focused on the call on your life with now what you think is a seed of uncertainty? One disciple responds in verses 22-23 with, “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” My question to Peter would be, “Are you stepping out in boldness because you are afraid of the outcome or are you afraid you may lose what you have grown accustomed to and change may take place?”
What about you? Is God trying to input change in your life to hurt your routine or to grow you so you can step into the next season of your life? My current circumstance is defined by the word “change.” My wife and I have been married for almost 7 years and have resided in Maryville, TN, for the majority of our lives. We have no biological children but we have recently taken in a second nephew. Talk about honeymoon stage to parent stage quickly. This is a big change, and to be honest, I struggled with selfishness for a period and that’s me just being vulnerable. I knew it was the right thing to do but it was changed that intersected my daily routine. I struggled with the idea that I couldn’t continue doing certain things that I enjoyed doing due to taking care of two young men. These two young men went to the top of the priority list. As a pastor, I am all for taking care of the orphans and the least of these but when it goes against what we are comfortable with, it's easy to fall into a trap of selfishness. After a great deal of prayer and discussion with the Lord, I keep hearing, “Stay focused.” The reality is this: the Lord is taking the change and using it to grow me. To grow you. We need to look at the change as an opportunity to love, bless, and encourage others. If not, selfishness will take hold of your focus and you will miss the blessing. Or, if like Peter, the Lord may rebuke you! So I believe the Lord is saying to stay focused on the bigger picture, which you can see at the end of Matthew 16 verse 21, “…and on the third day be raised.” Jesus was telling the disciples that change was coming but don’t let the change, which was death, define your attitude and to focus on the idea that the Lord is going to come through in the resurrection.
What change is knocking at your door? It doesn’t matter if you are in Blount County or Africa, the Lord wants to grow you. No matter how ugly the change looks in the beginning, embrace it with open arms knowing that the Lord is working on your behalf. So, step out in faith, knowing that God will not leave you nor forsake you because He loves you!