My first pastoral appointment was to two churches in Seymour, Indiana. It was there where I saw the beauty of an Indiana fall. Folks at church warned me that driving to Brown County during the middle of October would result in traffic and long lines. I was also told that the trip would be worth any trouble I ran into. They were right on both accounts.
One afternoon, we decided to battle the traffic and drive through Brown County. We took back roads, hoping to avoid some of the traffic. When I saw the beautiful foliage, avoiding traffic was no longer my priority. Instead, I just wanted to see as much as I could. I grew up in Indiana and knew what a central Indiana fall looked like, but October beauty in and around Brown County was amazing.
As I drove, I was glad God decided to create the varied seasons. I was grateful to live in a place where seasons are so different. There are some places in the world where one season merges into the next and it is hard to tell the difference. Indiana isn’t one of those places. Seasonal change surrounds us.
The Indiana seasons remind me that life changes. Change comes no matter how much we try to avoid it. Even as we seek to avoid change, we understand the inevitability of change.
Perhaps we seek to avoid change because not all change is good and change can be difficult. Nevertheless, change happens no matter how tightly we hold onto the way things are now.
Change will come. Change is coming. We age. Our body weakens. We aren’t the same as we used to be. Relationships begin, grow, deepen, and sometimes weaken over time.
Our church, the community of faith to which we belong, changes too. Worship times change. Activities, like pastors, come and go. We bid farewell to old friends.
Sometimes we are so focused on what we lose because of change, we miss opportunities and potentials change brings. New activities bring opportunity for growth, and if we pay attention, we find the potential of new friends.
We don’t have a choice when it comes to change, but we do have a choice on how we can view and even embrace change.
Have you ever noticed children’s reaction to their sandcastles? At some point, the water comes as the children helplessly watch the sandcastle, that they spent time and energy creating, wash back into the sea. Some children cry. Other children pick up their bucket and shovel and begin again, creating a new masterpiece. Maybe even a better masterpiece.
We aren’t alone in change! Because of Jesus, we can enter into change with faith and confidence. We don’t have to fear change because Jesus walks with us. We may even discover how beautiful change can be when we walk with God.
When we are open and receptive to God, we discover beauty, even in change. God makes beautiful things. We see God’s handiwork on display every fall. But God makes beautiful things out of our lives as well. When we willingly allow God to change and transform us, he makes our lives beautiful.
As we enter into this dazzling fall season, take the opportunity to pause and bask in God’s glorious beauty. Talk to God. What new opportunities and potentials is God creating through change? How is God using change to create beauty in your life? What things (attitudes, behaviors) is God calling you to change so that you might find true beauty in him? What is God calling you to let go of? What practices should you begin? Use this season as an opportunity to strengthen your faith and trust in him. Change is coming, actually, it has already arrived. But God is good.
Beautiful transformation begins when we embrace Jesus, his will, and his way. Over time we discover change doesn’t have to cause fear within us because God constantly brings beauty through change.