My boss -a faith-filled optimist who is the Tigger to my Eeyore as far as personality is concerned – is fond of saying “Change is here to stay.” He views change as inevitable and with the same enthusiasm and anticipation that a child awaits Christmas, whereas I tend to view change with wide-eyed terror, since it means moving out of my comfort zone and leaving behind all that is comfortable and familiar.
Change is indeed inevitable, however, so I have to learn to adapt. I am currently re-reading Eugene Peterson’s commentary on the life of David, ‘Leap Over A Wall’. I’ve reached the part where finally (after 132 pages and 37 years for David) David is king over all Israel. Change, therefore, was inevitable for him: he was no longer on the run, hiding from Saul, in fear for his life; he was no longer just king over Judah, a fragmented kingdom. The prophecies are about to be fulfilled!
Eugene Peterson comments that ‘change can also be a catalyst for growth. It can stimulate developing, deepening, lengthening, enlarging – our lives becoming more, not less.’ (‘Leap Over A Wall’, P 135) He talks about how David took Jerusalem and made it a strategic centre (effectively, the capital) when beforehand it had been a Jebusite town of no importance.
2 Samuel 5:10 says “And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.” Eugene Peterson, in the Message translation of this, says, “David proceeded with a longer stride, a larger embrace since the GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies was with him.”
He goes on to say, “He lengthened his stride. He did the unexpected when he took Jersualem… He enlarged his embrace. He included more and more people under his rule and in his love. He gathered all God’s children, not just those who had been on his side, helping him out through the difficult years… Maturity translated into generosity, into reaching out to make peace with the northern tribes. David didn’t use his newly acquired strength and authority to destroy or denigrate others. He gathered and integrated and led.”
The thing that struck me most about this chapter, however, was when Eugene Peterson contrasted change with growth. Our culture greedily wants change for the sake of something new, throwing away the old and hankering after novelty. He says, “God’s way is growth, not change. Organic is a key image. Nothing from our past is thrown out with the garbage. It’s all composted and assimilated into a growing life.”
Change is inevitable; growth is not. Growth is what we do with change – or perhaps, more importantly, what we allow God to do with the changes in our lives.