One of the most difficult challenges in life is accepting and embracing change.
People react differently to change. Some are very settled in their ways and they can feel really threatened by change; they are worried that it may shake the core of their existence. Others may find change less threatening but they remain cautious because they are not sure about how to cope with the consequences of this change. Others welcome change; they do not feel that they have to control every aspect of their lives and they are happy to treat it as an opportunity to move forward.
Our attitude to change depends greatly on how big and serious this change may be and how ready we are to take a risk – to let go of the old and to grasp the new.
St. Paul, in his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, faced the most earth-shattering encounter which turned his life upside down and inside out. He was coming to Damascus in the name of the same God who not only challenged him to his very existence, but even threw his faith, theology and upbringing into chaos. Suddenly, Saul, the terrorist in the name of the Almighty, realised that his worst enemy was his Lord and Saviour. How many of us could take such a dramatic change and still hold any atom of faith in anything at all?
Today, we have still not fully grasped the depth of this event in the history of Christianity nor have we acknowledged its fundamental consequences. We still often talk to God and hear exactly what we like and what affirms our thinking. I have very rarely met people in the last twenty years of my ministry who told me that God spoke to them and that He told them that they were wrong! We must open up our hearts, minds and spirits to the free work of the Holy Spirit even if it means that we have to make an 180-degree turn in our lives. Being able to open up to the work of the Holy Spirit means accepting being vulnerable – as St. Paul did - and exposing ourselves to something far outside our understanding and control. St. Paul allowed himself to be swept away by God; he had to go through blindness and powerlessness to come to terms with the fact that the very person he had condemned as the evil enemy of God was nothing less than God Himself, the object of his lifelong worship.
The ultimate disease of the 21st century is control. So many forces fight to control us - politics. science and technology, organised religion and many more – and all of them claim that they are enabling us to regain control of our lives! Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, is the one who empowers us to accept change and to take risks because our vulnerability in Him becomes our greatest strength. As St. Paul said, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”...Therefore I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9-10)