February 26, 2021
Moving to a strange city kept me awake at night. Hubby and I had no choice. In preparation, I ran the palm of my hand across the kitchen cabinets to make sure all was packed away. With the last of the everyday dishes in a large box, I taped the lid closed and pushed it aside. But I couldn’t push away the tears of self-pity that attacked me. “Lord, I should be grateful my husband got a job. But why couldn’t it be here where all is familiar?”
The move was inevitable. Though the transition from sighted to blind years prior had been painful, eventually adjustment came.
But leaving our familiar home in St. Louis and moving to Orlando made me tense. Thoughts of a new territory, a new house, a new neighborhood, a new world kept me tossing and turning in bed.
During those sleepless nights, more questions swirled inside. Unable to see my physical surroundings, how would I navigate through the new house? Would I find friends who would accept me in spite of my blindness? Could I handle my emotions and still be a good Mom to my three young sons?
That same uncertainty might have visited your world, too. Maybe it’s not a sudden move or change from being sighted to blind. But instead, you’re facing an unfair life change, courtesy of the pandemic; one that’s painfully out of your control. The transitions could be from marriage to divorce, from health to debilitating illness, from financial comfort to unemployment, or from independence to limitations that choke your life.
But the transitions don’t have to choke your life. They can instead, usher a new, fresh beginning. They can bring to light the horizon where God has painted new, pleasant surprises.
That’s what happened to Ruth when she left the familiar. She fell into God’s perfect plan. That’s what happened to Joseph. Painful change revealed God’s hand at work. And sudden change caused Joshua to discover the source of his strength.
We can all join them in a wondrous outcome of life’s changes. Isaiah 43:18-19 highlights five steps to follow.
Step 1: “Forget the former things…”
Forget them, Lord? I argued. The former things were doable, pleasant and comfortable. But now the pending changes became the dark cloud that covered my security. The same thing happened in Ruth’s life. With no warning, she became a young widow. But rather than join the poor me club, she wiped away her last tear and headed into a new chapter. And even when Naomi tried to discourage her from making that daring transition, Ruth insisted. She clung to Naomi’s sleeve, and replied: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Don’t you just love Ruth’s boldness? She stepped into a huge change with gusto. The unknown she faced didn’t intimidate her, worry or made her doubt.
And because she did, she saw God’s plan unfold. She became no other than one of the ancestors of Christ, the Savior of the world.
Ruth faced change hoping for something better. God formed her life into something greater.
Step 2: “…do not dwell on the past.”
Is there a danger in dwelling on what once was, what we had, what we knew? Yes. Lamenting what once was is a lame way to face what’s ahead.
Joseph knew. Once his brothers threw him in the ditch and left him for dead, he could have sat at the bottom, sulking in a puddle of tears. And while lamenting his misfortune, he might have asked God over and over again why He allowed the change from what was comfortable to what now was painful. He should’ve cursed his brothers. And, he could have become miserable longing for what once was.
But he didn’t. Instead, he pulled out his weapon called faith. Rather than doubt, he believed. He carried his faith as God ushered him through more changes—from free to a prisoner. From respect to ridicule. From serenity to sorrow.
If Joseph had access to Instagram, he might have posted about his anger, resentment or bitterness for losing what he once had. Instead, he faced each stage of the ugly changes with faith in God’s faithfulness.
And that’s when God showed up with a victorious ending and a triumphant result.
Joseph relished in that victory. And with humility, he declared: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Changes may seem threatening, difficult and uncomfortable, but faith is the vehicle that takes us to the destination God already prepared.
Step 3: “See, I am doing a new thing!”
A new thing? Though I couldn’t see it, my physical blindness couldn’t be an excuse. It was my spiritual blindness that prevented me from seeing God’s hand at work, preparing, moving and crafting good things.
“Show me, Lord,” was my frequent prayer. I wanted Him to guide me to the next step—from labeling items, to walking through piles of packed boxes, to remembering the layout of the new house in Orlando.
Once the movers packed the boxes, furniture and clothing, the family flew to Florida.
And when He said in Psalm 119:105 that His Word would be a lamp to my feet and a light for my path, His promise came alive.
He showed me how to memorize the path from room to room. To record in my mind the location of the walls, the furniture and the open spaces for me to walk through.
He did the same as I navigated through my fear, walking carefully through moments of worry. And He showed me to stay clear of stress and doubt. The path was wide, easy to navigate and the new house became a home.
Step 4: “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Joshua could only perceive his weaknesses. When he faced the change from being a Moses follower to being the leader of God’s people, he lay at night on the pillow of his insecurities and perhaps during the day, he was taunted by the misconception that he was alone in the journey.
We do the same when an unexpected change rattles our peace. We ask: Do I have what it takes? Am I prepared? Will I succeed?
Those same questions might have stressed Joshua, too. That’s why God had to make it clear and with emphasis in His voice, He spoke to him: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
God’s order was clear then. And it’s clear now—not to be discouraged, not to fear or worry. And then comes the promise: God would be with us. In that unknown, God will be there. In the uncertainty, He will be there. With the change unfolding, God will be with us. When stepping into strange territory, God will be there, too.
And with God already present, that new chapter has to contain pages of fresh success and victory. It did for Joshua and it will for us too.
Step 5: “I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
Ruth, Joseph or Joshua didn’t make a way. God did. And in the midst of the unknown, none of them made things happen. God did. None clung desperately to what they had. God helped them to let go.
He did the same with me. A couple decades have gone by since that time I packed up my kitchen and moved to a strange city. And with gratitude overflowing, I relish in each step through which He guided me. The new friends that adorn my life, and the way my sons flourished in the new place.
God did it all. And, in turn, I blossomed. What a fool I had been to resist the change when God was opening the door to beautiful surprises.
And that beauty shines through God’s promise for you and me in Isaiah 43:18-19. Dreaded changes turn to divine exchanges. God ushers new ways, new opportunities. Each lifts us higher, draws us closer and makes us better.
Father, I resolve that all changes wrapped in Your love will take me to places that will help me see you better and to know you more intimately. In Jesus’ name.
What change has rattled your life lately?
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