This week at First Baptist – Columbus, IN we will be taking up the topic of change in a couple of ways. Our “Men of Faith” bible study group begins a new study titled “New Wineskins: Faith’s Great Paradigm Shifts”. This is a study based on some of the biggest changes recorded in the Bible and how persons responded to them. As our group discusses the biblical paradigm shifts we will also talk about change elements common to life today. (Men of Faith meets on Fridays at 6:15 a.m. in Columbus, IN at the Four Seasons Retirement Community dining room.)
Then, this coming Sunday I’ll be preaching on the topic “The Cost of Change” based on Joshua 5. This is a text about God’s people emerging from a liminal period (the Exodus wandering) to a more settled state in preparing to inhabit the Promised Land. The chapter is filled with change issues and costs, and yet God, through Joshua, equips the people to meet the change in a hopeful manner.Wanted or unwanted, welcome or unwelcome, planned or unplanned, change is common to life. We will all face multiple changes throughout our lifetimes. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when”and, perhaps more importantly, “how”.
How do you greet change? Perhaps it depends on the change? There are some changes we anticipate and long for: the wedding date, a baby’s arrival, the start of a new job, a vacation, our retirement date . . . you fill in the blank. Other changes we dread and lament: loss of independence, changes in health, a new challenge that stretches us thin, our retirement date . . . you fill in the blank.
Even the same change event can be both welcome and unwelcome, depending on one’s perspective. For example, a child going off to college represents a major change not only in that young person’s life, but also the life of the family system. Parents might be both proud and hopeful for their offspring, while at the same time being a bit sad and feeling the loss of one leaving the nest. The young person him or herself may also have some mixed feeling about their changing status – ready for more independence and taking that next step in maturation; but a bit ambivalent about leaving behind the familiarity and safety net of home.
Change causes us to weigh and acknowledge its costs routinely. It’s pretty hard to embrace something new when we are holding on to something old. Our grip, be it our physical hand grip or emotional/mental grip cannot accomplish these acts of holding on and letting go (in order to grasp something new) at the same time.
Joshua chapter 5 is an important text in understanding change and how we might best respond to it. It’s worth taking a look at if you are facing change in your life today (and who isn’t?). I invite you to join us in worship this Sunday, August 7th, as we consider the text together. If you can’t make it in person, you can live stream our service beginning at 9:30 a.m. eastern time at http://sundaystreams.com/go/fbccolumbus.