Sunday, May 12, 2024

Change is Hard: God's Authority over Transitions in our Lives

There is one constant in life, it’s change. Everything changes over time. I’ve experienced numerous changes over my life. Change is often hard and awkward at first. But it can also be something that brings a lot of positives.

But it never feels comfortable at the time. I remember when I first started my internship in Escanaba, Mi I was so nervous. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. But more than that I felt sorrowful. I felt actual grief. Just because things were so different.

I had moved away from my hometown, I was in a completely new area, and I didn’t know anyone. It was hard.

But early on I didn’t give up. Each day at work it felt awkward, but I kept reminding myself, you’re going to find your rhythm. Your going to find the beat.

And sure enough that’s exactly what happened. But it took a few months to get there. I slowly found a pattern that was comfortable for me, and I was so excited when it came together for me there.

In situations of change, the future is a giant question mark. It’s like being blindfolded and trying to go somewhere. You don’t know what to expect. You have to walk by faith.

It’s traumatic. It’s painful. And its in those times that we need to cling to the Master, Jesus, and listen to His words very carefully.

In hard times in your life, run to the word of God. Train yourself to do that. Open your Bible in the dark time. And let it speak into your situation.

Transitions occur in life. Transitions occur in America. Transitions occur in your own personal life. And transitions occur in the church. Not only that, transitions occur in the Bible.

So I want to draw your attention today to a situation where the disciples didn’t know what to expect next.

It comes from John chapter 14. Jesus has gathered his disciples for a special occasion, they are celebrating the Passover, but Jesus has revealed to them that things are about to change.

So Jesus gives them this encouraging word from John 14:1-2, ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

Our first point today is that Jesus reminds them that there is a future. He reminds them of their faith. Keep believing Jesus says.

He reminds them, that the Father’s house has many rooms. And there is a place for each of them in heaven.

There is a future beyond transitions and change. When the dust settles, when the mysteries come forth, realize there is a future.

We can’t see it directly. We believe in God. We know he will continue to guide us. He will continue to guide this church. But it takes faith.

Faith in a future.

Now imagine if the disciples, after Jesus said this, got up and said well I don’t like that change, so I’m going to leave. And they stormed out the door. They would’ve missed everything.

But Jesus reminds them, control your emotions, don’t let your hearts be troubled.

When a traumatic change takes place we start to wonder if there is any future. We start to think well it’s all over. Well I might as well just give up. But Jesus reminds us, the future is bright, even in traumatic change.

Next, in verses 5-7: “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Point number two, crisis brings questioning.

Lord, why is this happening? Lord, where are you? Lord, what should I do? Lord, I can’t stand how I feel right now.

There have been a handful of times in my life when I really was up against a wall and needed an answer. I just needed some word of encouragement from God. I felt such pressure, such concern, that it seemed impossible.

Like Thomas who asks Jesus the question, we ask God, “What do I do? I don’t know the way!”

It reminds me of a time I was on the trash detail at training college. And we had to maneuver the dumpsters to different locations, hook them up to trash depositors, pull the dumpsters with a pickup truck, and for some reason I felt intimidated by this process. I couldn’t quite figure it out. It was hitting some pressure point in me, that I felt inadequate.

And the two guys on it with me, the maintenance guys were getting more and more upset as I couldn’t figure it out. Finally one of the guys blew up at me and said, “You should’ve been able to figure this out by now, what’s wrong with you?” And he just really ripped into me. I got super upset and stormed out. And I felt so upset and angry and disturbed.

I felt inadequate. I felt anxious. I felt like I wanted to just up and quit the whole thing.

But it all got worked out. I finished the detail that semester. But did different things related to it.
But I blew up at the training principle, and got sent to counseling, and I remember the guy who I had had the fight with, as I was getting in the vehicle to drive to the counselor, he would come out and just look at me and laugh.

I had tried to get him in trouble, which was terrible of me, but I couldn’t’ believe how rudely he’d treated me.

It became this extremely tense and disturbing situation. And eventually I went to him and apologized for what I did. He never apologized. But it didn’t matter.

It was one of those situations where you just don’t know what to do. And you ask God why? Why this?

As a result God gives answers. Honestly, God gives answers. Sometimes he will be silent, it’s true. I think we think of God like that. He’s not gonna give us an answer. The answer is just faith it up more.

But that’s honestly not my experience. God has come to me in those high stress times and has given me such tender encouragement from His word. He’s given me so many nudges toward the truth.

And Jesus does the same for Thomas here, he says, I am the way.

In our problems, in our transitions, in change, Jesus is the way. Trust in Jesus.

Cling to Jesus. When everything is out of control, cling to Jesus even tighter. Run to the Father. Run to Jesus. Hug Him tighter.

Next, John 14:10-11, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

Jesus reminds his disciples that all things that are happening, all the changes are not random. It’s not some evil scheme. It’s not out of control. It’s not chaos. The change that is happening is in fact God’s perfect will.

If you can remember that during a transition then you will prosper.

But it’s when we start to think, “this isn’t fair” “this is wrong” “this is bad” that we start to get into trouble. We try to take control away from God. We try to take control. We try to claim some sort of conspiracy. But it’s not a conspiracy. It’s not an evil plot. It’s God’s perfect plan.

The best example I can give is the Salvation Army moves system. Every 3-5 years The Salvation Army moves officers from one place to another. Many will assume that the moves are done according to the will of man. But it’s not true. The moves are done according to the will of God.

Chelsey and I aren’t moving because we got married. We aren’t moving because Chelsey needs to be trained. We aren’t moving because its been x number of years. We’re moving because it’s God’s perfect will for the universe and planet Earth for us to move.

If we can understand God’s authority in these situations, we can be at peace. We can accept the change. We can prosper in change.

Whether I went to Escanaba, or Chicago, or St. Charles, or Albert Lea, St. Louis or Rochester, MN, or Owosso, Mi, I always knew that it was God’s perfect will for me to be there.

Did I wrestle in those times? Sure. Did I argue with God? I did from time to time. But did God always help me to accept His will? Yes He did.

Lastly, we see in verses 12-14, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Jesus tells His disciples that he has trained them to do great things, to do mighty works, to ask God for things and God will do them.

Point number four today, Change brings opportunities for great victories

The changes and transitions God brings are almost always intended to bring about greater ministry opportunities and greater victories for the future.

I remember going from Wausau, wi to Escanaba, Mi and wondering why God would bring this sort of change. But I quickly found myself excited with the ministry opportunities I had after the move.

Major Ralph there allowed me to preach half time and I was so excited. I had longed for years to preach sermons, and finally, finally, I got to get into the pulpit and preach a sermon from the word of God.

I was so excited. I got to preach sermons, I got to do weekly bible studies at the nursing home nearby, I got to assist with kids activities. I got to lead and plan a vacation bible school. I got to coordinate kettles. It was amazing. But God had to bring me through the storms of transition to get me there.

God will as well bring you through the storms of change, and you’ll go from sorrowful and upset, to excited and hopeful. But you have to let yourself walk through the difficulties of change to get to the blessings of change.

In conclusion, we must allow God in times of change, to hold us by the hand through the change. We must not run away, which may be our instinct. We should allow ourselves to grieve and wrestle with questions. But we should bring it all to God in prayer. We must remember God is in control in the confusion. We must believe that change can bring new blessings despite the pain.

On any journey, in any shift in our lives, we must remember that there is a way through it successfully. Its by way of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus himself is the way through.

Though we may be tempted to give up, to run for the hills, to get bitter, to throw all our progress away, instead, in the difficulty we must turn our eyes to Jesus, and cling to him even tighter than ever.

1. There is a future in change – though we can’t the future we can believe God is with us in the transitions

2. Crisis brings questioning – we can bring our questions to God, and God encourages us through it all

3. God’s authority rests over transitions – we must learn to see change as coming directly from the throne of God, he is sovereign

4. Change brings opportunities for great victories – our sorrow will turn to rejoicing as we see what God does in transitional times