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Change…the inevitable human condition

From the desk of…

by Eda Hokom, Major –

During a recent family vacation at an Idaho campground, the beauty of God’s creation again awed and blessed me. A rapidly moving two-foot deep stream with cliffs and towering trees bordered one side of the camp, and a gently sloping grassy bush-covered bank bordered the other side. The stream abounded with life, both animal and human—35 family members! The clean, cold water enticed us to wade into the stream, to be cooled from the 100+ temperatures, to simply relax and enjoy the moment.

What a contrast between that stream with its constant flow of new water, and a series of stagnant pools, where there is limited exchange of water, or the Dead Sea, where there is no outlet. Like the stream, our lives often abound with change, some embraced, some resisted, some ignored, but all inevitable.

The view from my office has definitely changed—from the second floor view of a busy freeway to the 11th floor view of a calming beach. It isn’t just the view that has changed, but also the quarters, the people, the place, and the responsibilities. For those of us in The Salvation Army, we know that at some point change will affect us all.

Accepting and adapting to “change” can often be an all-consuming challenge. We have three choices with change: we can embrace it joyously, reject it vehemently, or ignore it and hope that it will go away (which it rarely does). And there is perhaps a fourth, a combination of all of the above.

Always rejecting the new, the different, the often uncomfortable incidents in our lives can lead to our becoming like the Dead Sea, which is fed new water, but provides no outlet. Since there is no release of all the minerals, as the water evaporates the Dead Sea is exactly that—dead—no life. It gets more and more salty—so much so, that you can’t sink—only float. If we rejected all change, could our lives become like the barren Dead Sea?

Ignoring change will certainly slow the process. It may happen around me, but I’ll pretend everything is just the same. This can lead to stagnation—there is life, but it gets smelly, dirty and unhealthy, not a place that is inviting or refreshing. Who wants to fish from a stagnant river? Who would choose to relax by a stagnant pool? Ignoring change can lead to a life with no excitement and little joy or peace, but one filled with apathy, a sense of isolation and perhaps even a sense of abandonment.

Embracing change requires a deep trust in God, the author of change. It requires practice in stepping out with faith and trusting that God will walk with you, or carry you if need be, through the change. It requires an intimate personal relationship with our unchangeable God. Change can bring spontaneity, joy and deep peace. It can also be scary and overwhelming, and force us to constantly rely on God.

No, it’s not easy. I’ve often resisted change—until I find my relationship with God withering and recognize that I need to joyously say yes to him. For although I enjoy new places, people, and adventure, I don’t want to let go of all the treasured people, experiences, and comfortable security that I currently have. “Just leave me alone, God, and let me stagnate”; is that what I’m asking?

Consider: What kind of change do I need in my life? Am I a resister, ignorer, or embracer? What needs to change in my corps? How can we as God’s people encourage transformation of others and ourselves?

In what way does The Salvation Army need to continue to change? How can we preserve the valuable, discard the unnecessary and have the wisdom to know the difference?
Bottom line—are we a refreshing stream, a stagnant pool, or a dead sea? Only you can answer the question. As for me, I’m still on the journey of moving from a resister to an embracer, and I’m glad God is patient with me. Come and join the joyous (or reluctant) embracers. Read Psalm 46, and continue on the adventure of learning the value of “being still” in the midst of turmoil and change.

When you can’t see around the corner—trust. God knows what’s there waiting for you.


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