Coping with Change

snow phone_box This is the time of year in Britain when it might snow. It might or it might not.

The weather has been so unpredictable of late − 2012 being almost the wettest year since records began − that anything might happen. Some years it snows heavily; occasionally we get a very severe winter; but it could remain mild. It’s that unpredictability that makes it difficult to plan ahead so that everything carries on much as before, snow or no snow.

Gridlock!

It is well known that a light snowfall can bring the UK to a halt as cars slip and slide, power lines go down, schools are shut and children get an unexpected holiday, until it thaws! Countries which experience regular deep snow have all the equipment they need and are practised at clearing snow away. But when snow is irregular and occasional, people are less well prepared.

children enjoy playing in snow

 Yet what is unwelcome to some people – like the Highways Authority – is hugely welcome to others, especially the children who get extra days off school. Look at the youngsters in the picture who are evidently enjoying the opportunity to go slipping and sliding down the road. Others, of course, will be fearful of venturing out in case they fall over, get hypothermia, or worse. For them, the new arrival will be a threat.

snow can be hard on aged and infirm

All Change!

It’s not just snow, of course, which causes such different reactions. Things change all the time and some people welcome it, whilst others resist it or fear it. As we get older, it may be that we get less able to cope which might be why some older people look longingly backwards, to what they perceive to be “the good old days”. It is worth noting, however, that change is a vital part of God’s unfolding purpose, as the Bible makes clear.

When God wanted to choose a people for Himself, through whom He would reveal His gracious purpose for mankind, He chose one man – Abraham – and invited him to journey with Him, in faith (Isaiah 51:2). Abraham responded magnificently and eventually he and his family arrived in Canaan (the land we now know as Israel). Through his son, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob, Abraham’s family grew. Invited down to Egypt, over a period of time the seventy members of that family became a nation, albeit one in slavery. But change was to come, and very welcome that change was, to some. God had a plan to rescue His people from slavery and to bring them back to the land in which Abraham had once lived. How would they react to the opportunity? How would you have reacted?

Into the Unknown

Egypt might have been a place of bondage and servitude, but as slaves they were quite well fed and housed for the Egyptians needed them to be healthy and able-bodied for the work they were to do! Leaving all that – their homes and belongings, their accustomed diet, their regular hours and their employment – was a challenge. But God so arranged matters, by bringing a series of devastating plagues upon Egypt, that in the end they had no choice: they were told to leave! Thus the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt began and they set off into the wilderness, guided by God towards a new land.

If you are at all familiar with the Books of Exodus and Numbers, you will know that many of the people left unwillingly and very few of them really believed that God had a viable escape plan. On the brink of their promised inheritance – at a place named Kadesh Barnea − most of them doubted that God could deliver what He had promised and without that belief and trust they were turned back and left to wander aimlessly around the Sinai peninsula.

It was the next generation who entered the land, another series of miraculous events making that possible. Now they could settle down and begin to be a nation among nations. That was another change they had to get used to.

God’s Kingdom

Yet this was only the beginning of a long process recorded in the Old Testament. The infant nation had to fight to survive, with God’s help. He appointed saviours, called Judges, who rescued them, and when they demanded a King like the other nations, God provided one. King after king reigned over His people, for it was God’s Kingdom on earth − with God’s appointed king reigning on God’s throne, over God’s people (1 Chronicles 29:23).

But it didn’t last as long as 500 years, because the nation did not believe that God would do what He promised to do for them. First they went into captivity; then they had a series of overlords, as one world empire succeeded another. All the time they were waiting for a king, but when God sent them one – His Son, the Lord Jesus, born of the virgin Mary – they weren’t ready for that sort of king.

Jesus had come to rule over sin by his perfect obedience to his Father’s will, and he accomplished that brilliantly. Because he triumphed in that way, God raised him from the dead and exalted him to sit at His right hand in heaven. It was all part of God’s gracious purpose, just as the psalmist had predicted:

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies! (Psalm 110:1–2).

Coming Change

Jesus has been in heaven for nearly 2000 years, working for the good of mankind, to save us from sin and death. Soon he will come, as promised, to establish God’s kingdom on earth once again and this time he will be the one to rule, as the psalmist says, “out of Zion”. For Jerusalem is to be the future capital of a worldwide kingdom that will usher in a marvellous time for mankind – well, for all those who are privileged to be a part of that coming age.

This is our time of opportunity. We need to change our ways and prepare for the great things that are coming, by getting to know God’s purpose and developing a relationship with Jesus, so that we will be ready to meet him when he comes.


 

 

A version of this article was published in Glad Tidings magazine. You can subscribe to receive a free copy of the Glad Tidings magazine each month by clicking on the logo below.

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