Saturday, June 9, 2012

A new shell anyone?

Have you ever heard the saying, "The only thing constant in life is change"?  It is almost an oxymoron - change is by definition the opposite of something which remains constant!  Yet, there is much reality in this saying - change is constant.  If we are to remain fresh, vital and in a position of being on the "cutting edge" of all life sends our way, we need to be up for change.  Sometimes the greatest challenge to us comes in the willingness to admit we even need change.  There is just something "comfortable" about a lack of change.  When change begins to be called for, we get really nervous!  Why?  Simply because we don't see the need for change in quite the same way as the one calling for the change in the first place.  Now, when God calls for us to change, we might even find ourselves squirming a little, totally uncomfortable with what he might ask.

Change your life, not just your clothes.  Come back to God, your God.  And here's why: God is kind and merciful.  He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, this most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. Who knows? Maybe he'll do it now, maybe he'll turn around and show pity.  Maybe, when all's said and done, there'll be blessings full and robust for your God!  (Joel 2:13-14 The Message)

There is another saying, "When you are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere."  I sometimes think this is where we get off-course in life.  We think change will bring us some means of happiness, or new-found satisfaction in life.  Change for the sake of change is rarely as rewarding as we first imagined it to be.  Seeking peace within our hearts by any other means than stepping into the grace of God is useless - it will just continue to elude us.

We have a tendency to change our "clothes" and not our "life".  In other words, we change the circumstances - not the things which placed us in the middle of the present circumstances in the first place.  I think this is why people might hop from one relationship to another - all the while seeking some "change" which will give them some sense of "inner tranquility" they are seeking.  Imagine their surprise when they realize no "person" can fill that void!  The "void" is only capable of being filled by one big enough to fill it - God himself!

We can change the "shell" - being like a crab who outgrows his portable home.  In changing our shell, all we did is go from being a crab in a shell we'd outgrown into being a crab with room to grow!  We are still crabs!  Nothing changed in the process - just the size of our shell.  If we no longer want to be crabs - our original nature - we need something more than a new shell.  We need the transforming power of the creator God.  Try as the crab might, he cannot become a whale anymore than we can become instantly kind, or instantly free from the bitterness, or free from any other number of issues which shackle us.

Liberty comes in change - change comes in grace - grace comes in God.  Maybe we'd be better off with no shell at all!  We experience the extravagant love of God when we can begin to feel the breath of God on the very "tissues" of our soul.  Until the shell is stripped away, we don't feel the breath of God passing over us.  Once it is, we begin to feel the invigoration of his breath - because it produces life!

Now, I am not suggesting we are all a bunch of "crabby" people, but I think we can take a lesson from the crab.  Shells have to be shed if change is going to occur.  Crawling into the next shell we find may "fit" for a while, but seldom does it "fit" for the long-haul.  The only "change" which really becomes permanent is the change which affects us internally.  Only God is able to accomplish a "change of life".  The next time we are tempted to just crawl into a new shell, we might want to consider the inevitability of the "new" shell becoming just as useless as the last in just a matter of time.

Shells are like clothes - they serve a purpose to hide something within.  They do a good job for a while - but all clothes wear out!  The only thing lasting is the tranquility God produces when he becomes the source of our searching - the focus of our heart.  One last point - shells do a good job of hiding what is inside them.  There is not much transparency possible when we are wearing a shell.  Transparency only becomes possible when the shell is cast off.

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