Change comes hard for most of us and as we get older, change seems to become even more difficult. It may simply be because of our age or it is simply because when you have spent a life time moving through one change after another, change just gets harder, more difficult and seems to require more of you than ever before. The motivation, energy and drive required for these changes seems to wane and not be as sufficient as it once was, to see you through these seemingly essential changes.
The truth is however, that true change is hard, risky and is always stressful whatever its ultimate fruit and our age at the time.
As a pastor or one who has spent the majority of his life in the ministry in one form or another, I find myself in such a season of life. The real question arises for me, regarding my need for change, is simply, is it worth the effort, difficulty, stress, etc? I have experienced a lot of changes in my life, from one move after another, from one church or ministry organization after another, from one home to another, one state to another, from one ministry crisis to another and even from one job after another. So, yes, the question arises, is this change worth all of the effort, stress and hardship it requires of us to accomplish this change and the promises that these changes hopefully contain?
I would love to say, of course, it always is, but in all honesty, I find myself a lot more hesitant in this regard. I find myself spending more time examining the question of change and its promises vs the costs of that change. There arises in me a very real fatigue regarding these questions surrounding the call for more changes that if left unchecked would render a quick response of nope, not likely. I would love to automatically say the needed response to this is something like, yes, absolutely, and without hesitation I will once again pay the price. Yet, in all truth, I am not so sure.
The energy required versus the questions of and for change, seem, well, too often to be too much. But is this end of it? No. Not by a long shot. I feel like this question has arisen recently because the issue of change that is confronting me on a whole lot of levels and all require of me more than I, in the natural, want or maybe even can pay.
The visions of my youth have come and gone. The ambitions of my youth have also come and gone. The endless and I do mean endless energy, drive and sacrificial readiness have also come and gone. As I face these realities, the question becomes much more selective, like which changes truly warrant the risk, cost and sacrifice required to see them through?
What remains throughout the years, regardless of how many, is the heart of and for my precious Lord and Savior and His remaining call upon this life of mine and us as a couple, in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Facing the realities of my/our limitations, limitations of a lives not as youthful as they once were, I so desire to be much more discerning and wise regarding what it is that we are willing to face, in terms of changes and their all too often painful cost regardless of their promises. I realize, more than ever before, that there are true limits for me/us, yet, we still can do all things in and through the Lord Jesus Christ who is our strength.
King David, while he still had the heart of warrior, was confronted with the reality of his physical limitations that had suddenly appeared to him as he was locked in a life and death struggle with his enemy. His new-found physical limitations, were simply that he could not fight or accomplish the victories as he once had, in the same manner he had. Those much younger than him, now had to come to his rescue and fight those battles for him (See 2 Samuel 21:15-17).
While I find myself in so many ways being confronted with the same realities of my weakening body and its impact upon my soul, my spirit feels so much stronger than it ever has been. These realities are in seeming conflict within me, whether it is in my work in construction or my trying to fulfill my tasks as a Pastor while my body has expended its energy and drive through my very physical second job. My Spirit is willing but my flesh is often much weaker and way too tired.
My physical energy doesn’t bounce back or replenish itself as it once did, nor then does my soul energy (mind, concentration, focus, etc.). Recovery takes much longer than ever before. I find it easier to fall asleep while studying than to study when I am so physically tired so I have been much more aware of when to study and when not to. This is something that was never an issue in my life before. At my work in construction, jobs that I had always been able to do by myself, I now find that I need help because the physical strength isn’t there nor the endurance and stamina that once was. All of which I simply took for granted.
These natural changes of life cannot be denied or seemingly avoided. They are realities that I must embrace and adjust to if I am to remain effective in what I must do in either job/ministry. These are not changes that were asked of me beforehand. No, these are changes over which I have had little if any control yet I still must address. So when you add the issue of added changes that are being asked or even required of me, well, I find myself simply questioning whether or not I am willing to actually pay the additional price of these added changes. (Please note, for the sake of brevity I am only skimming the surface of these here)
All change comes at a cost. Some changes as I have shared, come whether or not you want them and yet we have to deal with them anyway. Other changes come and are asked of us by others in the circumstance we find ourselves in. These later changes, most of which we do have a say, come and we must choose to embrace them or pass them by. It is here that we must and most urgently discern the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not all changes asked of us are His changes for us. We need to be and become much more selective, discerning and then obedient.
This seems like a no brainer, what I am writing here, but often we engage the battle of change without understanding beforehand that we are not as equipped as we once were to take those battles on. Often, we only discover these new realities and limitations in the thick of the battle. These battles, however familiar to us, having fought these or similar ones many times over the years, suddenly weary us at a level we have not known or felt ever before and at much greater cost and or risk. It is in this moment of discovery we hopefully realize that we are not as we once were. The question then arises, how are we to move forward, as moving forward is ever the question before us, even until we finally move forward on to our Lord and Savior’s graces in glory.
For me, as I face these realities, I find myself, more than at any point in my life, wanting to give away all that I have gained and gleaned over the years of life and ministry, realizing that for me not to, is to end my life and season of ministry frustrated, simply in not having passed on to the next generation those things graced to me in this all to brief tenure of life and ministry. Here also, I find myself extremely limited and often wonder if this is simply my own desire and not the Lord’s. Maybe it is the remnants of some earlier desire or ambition, or not. I find myself not sure.
We know that we only have so many good years left in us before age and its changes leave us along side of the way. Therefore, the desire to see these years that are left genuinely count is of the utmost importance in our hearts desire and cry. Not to waste any of our time left, but to redeem all of the time that is left to us, is becoming the all important cry of our hearts and lives. Therefore wasting time investing in the trite and petty non-essentials of church politics seems genuinely like a great big waste of this disappearing precious reality, God-given time, as does beating up my body in construction. Yet, in the end, this also is an issue of Change, its risks, stress, pain and hopeful promises. However, if this call to change is being asked of us, the faithful and timeless question remains: what are you saying Lord Jesus? No matter how old or limited we get, our lives are His to do with as He desires and not about us and ours.