I just posted an audio message on my new podcast website (www.benfoley.podbean.com) based on Matthew 5:6 where Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled.” In that podcast I talked about how I have been sensing God “stirring” a lot of people to more…or to step out in ways that they never have before. I spoke to how there seems to be a “wrestling with restlessness” (in a good way) that many are beginning to experience and tried to encourage making a change or whatever changes may need made at this time. In this blog article I want to speak to that one word that is dreaded by so many, yet without it we “get stuck” and stop growing and miss out on so much of God’s blessing. That one word is “change.”
As I write this it is January 20th, 2015. My family and I are in the midst of major life changes. We had a newborn baby on the last day of November. At the same time, we had begun packing as we would be moving back to PA for a few months before moving out to Colorado. I also went to Africa for the first time. This was all less than a month before we actually moved! Then we made the move, after pasturing a church in NJ for the past six years. I began a new job, not as a pastor of another church, but joining with a mission organization (ServeNow). This is entailing major adjustments and learning so many new things. It has already been challenging and stretching…but it means we are learning things and doing things we have not before. My wife and I are also taking on homeschooling this last half of the year which is new…and also stretching. We just got back from a road-trip to Massachusetts for a few days and are adjusting to a life of traveling more frequently. On the day we drove back, I then had a meeting with a mission committee at another church. We have been in three different churches the first three Sunday’s since being in PA! Point being, we are in the midst of many new changes even circumstantially and externally.
Change is not easy. Is not always comfortable. It can feel very awkward. It can be very stressful. It can bring to the surface many insecurities and fears. It can be exhausting emotionally and even physically. It can make you more vulnerable to seeking comfort in other things and make you more susceptible to temptations of all kinds. These are some of the reasons people in general seek to avoid change at all costs. Some won’t make changes even though they know they are stuck and unhappy, because to them familiarity (even if it is killing them) is better than the unknown and unfamiliar.
But without change we do not grow. Yes, learning new things can be challenging and frustrating at times, but the reward is so worth it! Without change we get too comfortable and “stuck” because we cease to depend on God as much as we tend to when we are in the midst of changes and challenges. Change shatters our illusion of having things “under control.” This is actually why so many are not experiencing much more of the power and movement of God in their lives…they don’t really need Him.
But I just want to encourage someone who may read this and be experiencing a “restlessness” and “stirring” to make some changes. In the podcast message I just posted I spoke about a story in 2 Kings 7 where the city of Samaria lies besieged, there is a famine on the inside and so people are starving and the price of food has skyrocketed. So dire are the circumstances that a disturbing story of cannibalism has even come forth.
It’s at this point that we are told of four men with leprosy sitting outside the city gate. We get a glimpse into a conversation they have where they are considering their options. We read of them coming to a place of recognizing that if they stay in the place and position they are…they will definitely die. If they go into the city they likewise will die, for there is a famine in the city. Their only other option is surrendering to the enemy. It doesn’t sound promising, in fact it is likely they might kill them, but of the three options it’s the only one with the possibility of perhaps being spared. They choose to make a change and move towards the camp of the enemy.
It’s then that something miraculous occurs. As they began to move it says God began to move on their behalf! He caused the enemy army to hear the sound of an army coming their way and they reasoned that the Israelites had hired the Hittites and Egyptian armies and were coming to attack them. The reality however, was that it was just four men with leprosy! The enemy army ends up fleeing leaving all their food and valuables behind! The siege is thus over, the famine is ended and everything changes…because four men dared to make a change in their own lives.
When we dare to step out of the place we are in and make a change, we can feel very small, weak and insignificant. And the reality is…we are! But the other reality is what the apostle Paul spoke to in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Interestingly, while in Massachusetts this weekend sharing and speaking at a church, someone during the worship service basically spoke this forth as the Holy Spirit was seeking to encourage and exhort us in this very truth that Paul came to learn from the Lord Himself: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
None of the above realities are pleasant to our flesh. We often pray for God to keep us or remove from our lives these realities! Yet, God is seeking to teach us to trust Him, rely completely on Him and come to know His power…a power that is especially demonstrated when we are “weak” in and of ourselves!
For whatever it is worth and whoever else this might be for, be encouraged and comforted today. Change is challenging but it results in growth. You will learn things and skills you never possessed before. When you step out and make a move, you will see God step in and move on your behalf! You will come to know His power, even His supernatural and miraculous power doing or accomplishing what you couldn’t and can’t in your own strength or ability. There may be those reading this who…if you stay where you are, you will “die.” But if you get up from the place you are in and begin to move…that’s when you will begin to experience more of God’s movement in your life and will “come alive” spiritually! So…step out! Step up. Make a change. Do something new. Depend on God. Look only to Him. Trust in Him. You may feel “out of control” but rest in His control. Rest in the truth that He is in control and knows about, and cares for, even the little details of your life!
Matthew 6:25-26; 33-24 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”