How do you respond to changes in your life? Do you go in kicking and dragging your heel? Are you one of those that can’t leave anything behind, so you try to juggle the old and new? Very few of us are excited when changes come in our lives. Changes in our lives are unavoidable. It is how we deal with them and accept them that affect our destiny.
I can honestly say I am one that thinks long and hard before making changes. I like to hold on to the old and familiar. Recently, my dearly beloved 18-year-old recliner needed to be replaced. This recliner had moved with me three different times and has served me well, but the time had come for it to be replaced. I have been putting off getting a new one for several years thinking this one could last a little longer. However, over the past year it had started to lose its stuffing in several places from wear. Finally, I had no choice, I knew something had to be done!
So why did I delay getting a new one? You see, this old recliner really fits me just right. It is so comfortable. The arms are just the right size to hold the remote. It is just the right height. It reclines to just the right angle for sleeping and watching TV. It is what I know. I am happy and content and even a little lazy. This old recliner has been doing its job. I didn’t want to think about going and searching for something new. I didn’t want to face the unknown world of recliner shopping; the colors, the styles, the choices. I knew there would not be one like the one I already had, and I would rather hold on to what I knew than to face the unknown. However, once the decision to order a new recliner had been made, the question became what to do with my old recliner. Should I get rid of it or keep it around just in case I needed it for some reason. Can you relate? Do you hang on to stuff just in case you need it? (Let me be honest, the real reason I want to keep the recliner around is as a safety measure just in case I don’t like my new recliner.)
Some of you may be saying, “Well Brea, I’m glad you got a new recliner, but that seems very small and insignificant compared to the changes that come into my life.” You are right, but the decision is still the same. Sometimes you have to be willing to let go of things in your past or current life to embrace the new, exciting, and unknown things God has for you in the future. Be it a new recliner, a new Lifegroup, a new bible study, a new church, a new circle of friends, a new ministry, a new career or job, a new relationship, a move to a different city or country, etc. … You get the idea.
In the last session of the Priscilla Shirer Live conference in Knoxville, Priscilla gave us some warnings of things to be prepared for as we chase our donkeys heading towards our destiny. (To understand, read Part 1 if you haven’t.) The word of warning that really stuck me was that sometimes God calls us to let things in our life go: friends, possessions, ambitions, plans, and desires. (She is not talking about your marriage!) Wait a minute! That is change! I thought I could just carry on with my every day task of chasing my donkey while waiting for my destiny. I didn’t sign up to give anything up. But God’s ways are different from our ways and his thoughts are different from our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) Sometimes we have to be willing to change to meet our destiny.
In 1 Samuel 9:27, Saul experienced having to give up something. He had to give up his servant that had been traveling with him. Samuel told him to let his servant go:
“When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”
Priscilla told us that sometimes in order for us to grasp the new things God has planned, we have to be willing to let go. Saul’s servant had served his purpose by pointing Saul to Samuel and faithfully working alongside of Saul chasing after those donkeys. Let’s be honest, sometimes it is others in our lives that encourage us and point out new opportunities in our lives. We just have to make the decision to follow their suggestions.
A little warning though: Don’t be like Balaam with his donkey (Numbers 22:8-35) and follow someone else’s suggestion or encouragement out of un-pure motives or rebellion and without actively seeking for God’s permission through prayer to move forward. Draper Rogers said in his sermon a few weeks ago: “Road blocks are not the enemy and when you encounter road blocks they can be God’s warning signs to you and should not be ignored.” Make sure you are watching for the road signs while you chase your donkey. Detours and unintended hazards are no fun and can slow you down.
But back to change. When change comes in your life how do you react: Are you excited? Do you embrace this new change? Are the words from the song in the movie Frozen your motto: “Let it go! Let it go!” Do you embrace the words found in Isaiah 43:19 (NET) where the Lord says: “Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness”?
Are you willing to drop everything and follow Jesus, just like his disciples?
In Matthew 4:19-22 (NET) Jesus said to them, “ ‘Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.’ They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Then he called them. They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.”
These disciples were willing to drop everything to follow Jesus.
Sometimes this is so hard to do. I have been known to flat-out rebel by refusing to make the change, or I try to juggle the old and the new. This never works. Can you relate to the rich man in Matthew 19:16-30 (NET), when he came to Jesus and asked him how he could gain eternal life? Jesus told him to keep the commandments, to which the rich man replied that he did, so what did he lack? Jesus replied: “ ‘If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.” This man went away sorrowful, sad. He could not let his possessions go. He missed out on following Jesus for things. Do you let worldly possessions, your friends, family members, job, church, current ministries, etc. hold you back from following God to your destiny? Do you favor them and the security they bring over God? These are some really tough questions! Let me say from experience it is better to willingly give something up than to have the Holy Spirit come in and strip things away as he cuts and prunes your life. The hurt is a lot worse when God has to purposely remove something or someone, than for us to acknowledge and obey God’s instruction when He asks us to let things or people go.
Giving up the familiar and stepping out into the unknown is scary. But God has said in Deuteronomy 31:5 (NET) “Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!” Also in Isaiah 41:10 (NET) God tells us, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you—yes, I help you—yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!”
So are you willing to let go and step out on Faith? At the conference, Priscilla said, “Our calling/destiny is not here. It is there. And we have to be willing to release what God has called us to let go of so that we can fully grasp the future he has planned. If we choose to hold on to the past it limits our enjoyment of the life God has given us. God lays the table and invites us to come eat, but we have to decide to leave things behind and go.”
It is time for me to let my old recliner go and embrace many years with my new recliner. What is God calling you to leave behind or change in your life so that you can experience new and exciting things He has for your destiny?