The Time (to) Change
I’m sitting here in front of my office window staring at the darkness outside. It’s 7:13 am, a time when the sunrise is typically blindingly bright, but today it’s dark. On an average day before this week, I’d hear my children shuffling around in the background, talking about their day or arguing about some detail in their latest interest—but not today. Today they still sleep. The reason that they and the sun are still sleeping is that the time has changed. We “spring forward” every springtime and this has caused quite a difference in our family. It is amazing what “losing” an hour can do to you habits, traditions, and daily functions. Losing that one hour changes what the day feels like. Losing that hour causes exhaustion for most people, and this exhaustion lasts for days. Losing one hour can take a week or more to get over.
This is how change affects us as people. Change is often hard to deal with, and when we do face change, we tend to work hard to make the new reality be as normal as possible. We want the change to become our “new normal.” We want our lives to function relatively systematically. For instance, when it comes to worship, most of us tend to leave our homes at the same time (even if that makes us arrive late), arrive at the same time, enter the building and head to the same seats in which we normally sit. We go through our routine. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. Habits keep us consistent. Habits make us reliable. Habits make us comfortable.
This is only a problem when it comes to Christianity. We have a tendency to “settle in” to our Christian lives. We do much of what we do by rote. If we have a “Bible time” at home, we will tend to do it the same way every time. We tend to settle into comfortable prayers at different times of the day, prayers that tend to say the same thing, use the same phrases, and sound much the same as every other prayer (if we were to do this is regular conversation, saying the same thing over and over again, our friends would assume we have gone senile!). We tend to worship the same and give it only half of our attention. In nearly every area, we tend to habitually obey.
The problem with this is that the essence of Christianity is “change.” As Christians, we are called to constantly be different than we were before. Like Paul says in that famous passage, “1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.1-2). Transforming means to change. We are to be different today than we were a year ago, a week ago, maybe even than we were yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, good habit can bring about good change, but when we become more attached to the habit than we do the change, we’ve gone off track.
For the sake of exercise, let’s sit this week and consider what changes we can make that will make a difference for us. How can I establish new habits that will create vibrancy and excitement in my spiritual walk? How can I start praying prayers that are truly conversations with my Creator, Redeemer, and Friend? How can I challenge myself to do something different, something daring, something dangerous for Him? Changing will be hard, and take some getting used to, but it will be worth it is you’re bringing glory to Him.