“I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
God does not change—man does. Not only is change a part of everyone's life; it is a necessary part. God never allowed any believer in the Bible to remain in one place for very long. He kept each one moving for spiritual reasons. For instance, after Elijah declared there would be no rain, God told him to move from the presence of King Ahab to the brook Cherith where he fed him by ravens. When the brook dried up, God told him to go to Zerephath to be fed by a widow. When Elijah wanted to camp at the cave at Horeb, God asked him twice, "What are you doing here?" Each place was intended to only be a temporary stop on the way to God’s fulfillment of Elijah's life and ministry: Change, change, change.
Israel followed the cloud of God during the day and remained under the fire each night. The nation was told quite often to change direction because they had camped in one place too long (Deuteronomy 1:6, 2:2). If we try to settle in one place in our Christian walk, we become stagnant. Change is an important and necessary part of our lives.
We are surrounded by ever increasing changes in technology, music and education. Yet, in the Christian life, as well as the church, we fight change. God's plan not only includes change—it is change. “But we all, with open face looking as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In the same way we change and advance in our hearts, we should also accept natural changes in our life, whether at church or in our relationship with other Christians.
We don't mind change in our life if it is for the better. We all want to move toward healing and better health. We also want to move from financial lack toward prosperity. After all, who doesn't want to make more money?
We preach change in church, but most of us think it is for everyone else except us. We want sinners to leave the service saved. We want sick people to leave healed. We want carnal Christians to leave with a newfound joy after returning to fellowship with God. But we gripe when the praise and worship team introduces a new song or when we find someone sitting in our seat at church. But, our greatest challenge seems to be a change in church leadership, especially the pastor
Change Is Necessary
God will hear and afflict them, “He who abides from old. Because they have no changes, therefore they do not fear God.” (Psalm 55:19) (NIV) “Men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.” (NLT) “Because they refuse to change their ways, they do not fear God.” (ESV) “Because they do not change and do not fear God.”
When you fight change or refuse to change, you stop your journey. Most of all, you lose your reverence for God. God's guidance is found in change. To serve God is to change often. You resist change because you want to remain in control. When you embrace change, you recommit your trust in God. Then He is in control of your life again.
Life is Made up of Seasons
Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 about the shortness of seasons in our natural and spiritual life. Just as spring leads to summer, and summer to fall and winter, so are the seasons of life. Time is divided into decades, years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Some changes come over a long period of time and others seem to change by the minute. Nothing remains the same forever—except God. So, make up your mind now that change is inevitable. As Johnny Rivers sang, "The only thing that's permanent is change."
Let's break down Ecclesiastes 3 into sections.
Spiritual and Natural Seasons
1. To everything (natural) there is a season, and a time to every purpose (spiritual) under the heaven.
Natural seasons are visible pictures of God's will for our spiritual lives. There is a different season for apples, oranges, wheat and corn. Likewise, there are different seasons for each believer in his spiritual walk. No two believers find their call at the same time. You need to quit being upset when a Christian brother or sister discovers his, while you have yet to discover yours. Your season will come.
2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.
4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
6.A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
7. A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Many changes that come into our lives seem to undo what has been done; they seem like setbacks. Yet, all changes come to take us to a new level. Limbs on a tree need to be cut off, pruned, to produce healthier fruit. In other words, you cannot live today on yesterday’s victories and experiences. Change brings new strength and growth.
There Is Profit in Change
9. What profit has he who works in his labors?
10. I have seen the burden, which God has given to the sons of men to be busy in it.
Change has great value. It is a leader’s greatest asset, because it can be expected. You can use change to create and move ahead. Change is your friend. Change allows you to prepare and be inspired. Leaders exist for change. Without change, you have no job. Change seems to be more of a challenge for followers than for leaders. If you can learn to adapt to change as an employee, subordinate or church member, you will be in a greater position for advancement. Accepting change prepares you for leadership.
The enemy of change is tradition. Tradition kills creativity. In church and life itself, we need to move on from the former things. God wants to do a new thing in our lives.
Change Has a Destination
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.
Even history is divided into time periods. God calls them dispensations. In other words—change, change, change. God sees the beauty in each dispensation, each period of time. We are the ones who look at changing times with fear and predictions of a worst case scenario. All dispensations lead to the final one—the millennium—the time when Jesus rules on the earth for one thousand years.
God sees each time period as beautiful and leading to an even more beautiful destination. Why would it be different in our own lives? How dramatic would the effect be on our own life if we looked at change as beautiful and leading toward the ultimate plan of God for our earthly life and eternity? Every change leads us toward a brighter day, bringing us to His expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).
In The Meantime
12. I know there is nothing better for them, but to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.
13. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
Change rarely is immediate. Time is involved in the removal of the old and the installation of the new. New occupations, advancements and change of leadership in a church take time. Feelings and opinions can run wild. Faith and patience are required for a change in life, just like trusting God for any blessing He gives.
What should our attitude be in times of change? Does God want us to sit with teeth clinched and endure until the change is complete? Or is change a time to be enjoyed and to grow? God even says in verse twelve, if we properly handle change, there is nothing better. In these two verses, God gives us three things to do during times of change.
First, we should rejoice. Praise is faith in action. It sees the best coming and thanks God now—before any evidence is seen or heard. Praise helps erase every thought of doubt, fear or worse case scenarios. Rejoicing replaces unbelief with joyful anticipation of a better future. Secondly, we should continue to do what we always wanted. There is a temptation to stay home from work or church, shut the blinds and curtains, and wait for all to be well again.
Third, enjoy life. Eat, drink and enjoy the good of your labor. God has made everything to be enjoyed. You may say, My favorite pastor ever, is retiring. I like him so much and so do my children. I am not sure we will even like the new pastor. What are we to do? Go get pizza! In other words, don't wait for the change to be over and then party—party now. Enjoying life is celebrating that God is at work and the responsibility is His, not ours.
Another Link in a Chain
14. I know that, whatever God does, it endures forever: nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it: and God does it (brings changes), so men should fear (be reverent) before Him.
15. That which has been is now and that which is to be has already been, and God will recall that which is past.
God does not focus on the present as much as He looks at His eternal strategy. Today is only a small segment in God's overall plan from eternity past to eternity future. God doesn’t do anything temporarily. Everything God does is eternal.
This may be new in our life, but it is never new in God's existence. We seem to focus only on today and fail to see how it fits into the plan of God uniting yesterday with tomorrow.
When my niece, my sister's daughter, was about six years old, she told her mother, "That's the funniest thing I have seen in my whole life." My sister laughed, thinking, You are only six years old, your whole life has not been that long.
Our frame of reference is our own lifespan. We seem to think everything important began on the day we were born and we have lived long enough to evaluate life and its problems. Take global warming for example. We make these statements: This is the worst we have ever seen. Temperatures have never changed this dramatically since recorded temperatures began over one hundred years ago.
I don't know how long the earth has been here, perhaps millions of years. What is one hundred years to God? And how did scientists record earth's temperature one hundred years ago, anyway? Did they stick a thermometer in the ground? They didn’t have the scientific equipment we have today. And what if the earth's temperatures have risen in the past one hundred years? Is this the first time or is this truly the worst it has ever been? One hundred years is just a speck of dust in God’s viewpoint and His plan. The earth has handled change for millions of years and it will handle change throughout the eternal future.
We often complain about our own situations and say, This is the worst thing I have seen in my whole life. You might be forty years old when you say it, and think forty years is a long time, qualifying you to make an evaluation. But one thing is for sure—your lifespan is also a speck of dust compared to eternity past and future.
God must laugh when we say, This has never happened in my whole life. It may not have happened during your lifetime, but I guarantee it has happened millions of times in the past and will happen millions of times again in the future. God said, That which has been is now and that which is to be has already been. In other words, nothing is happening today that has not happened before or will happen again.
It may be new in your own life, but God has seen changes since the book of Genesis. Solomon told us in verse fifteen, what his father told us in Psalm 55:19—change is God's method to keep us fearing Him. As we approach change of any kind, we should cast our burdens on the Lord and trust Him to take care of it just like He has done millions of times in the past and will do millions of times in the future.
What is the last thing Solomon told us to do in verse fifteen? He said to recall how God has brought us through every problem in the past and expect Him to do it again. We should look to the past to find faith and hope for the future. So, count your past blessings. Or, as it says in Psalm 103:2, "Forget not all His benefits." Those past benefits, testimonies and answered prayers are your guarantee for success today and tomorrow.