It was a common sight to see men of all levels of social strata to wear belts and suspenders at the same time in one city in which I launched churches. The first time I saw this I thought, “Wow, this guy must have some sort of neurosis – he is really afraid of his pants falling down. This must be a heart metaphor of his fear of change.” This city was super conservative. So too, the fashion statement of belts and suspenders was common.
Fear of Change Is Predictable In Every Human Heart
Apart from the intervening presence of God’s Spirit, we are all doomed to not participate in the advance of God’s kingdom. We will simply get in his way continually. The giant question is, “How do we get past our fear of change?” We make adjustments as God’s word calls to us.
Change: Get Used To It! It’s Eternal
The metaphor God seems to like the most to explain the presence of his kingdom is that of a river. From Genesis to Revelation, and many points between, the life, the kinetic presence of God is pictured frequently as a river. It is noteworthy that God’s presence is not depicted as non-flowing water. Still waters, yes, yet progressive waters. That speaks clearly of progress, change.
A thought to ponder: As leaders we would do well to prepare our people to get used to change on this side of heaven. Otherwise, they are going to have the shock of eternity when they get into God’s presence and realize that change is the essence of God’s kingdom. God is unchanging. Ironically, when God shows up, everything begins to change immediately. Our people need to hear that and to get used to that.
Any sense of control on our parts is nothing more than a thin veil of illusion. I don’t know your story, but this I can guarantee you. Someday, not long from now, a huge adjustment is coming your way. It will be something you perceive as horrible, terrible, no good and very bad. What happens will knock you off your feet. You won’t see it coming. Similar to a “clothesline” tackle in the NFL, you won’t be simply taken out, you will feel annihilated. This annihilation can happen at many levels. You may have already had it happen to you. When it happens remember – this is an adjustment from God that is what Jesus spoke of – “For those who have ears to hear…” Without this adjustment, you will forever struggle with change. You will always put on both a belt and suspenders.
Attack Your Heart
What’s a person to do? Like Luther (AKA, “Brother Martin”), start each day with a heart attack – uh, make that, you allow God’s truth to adjust your heart. His version of it was “God forgive me for the best deeds I’m about to commit.” There is no help we have to offer God or his purposes. As we, in a sense, throw in the towel freshly each day, when it comes to our ability to attain the standards of God, we realize our best deeds are the “filthy rags” Isaiah referred to in Isaiah 64:6. (That term refers to discarded menstrual hygiene materials – no version I know of captures that Hebrew term.)
Once we understand that we cannot add to what God is doing – nothing but pull the “yes” trigger – yes to being available – then we flow with the change God is ushering in. When he does something great, we are the most surprised.