That word can strike fear into the bravest of souls.
Some people are so uncomfortable with anything new that they only have think about change and they freak out. Big change, little change, it doesn’t make a difference. They’ve got their routine, and they don’t want anyone to mess with it. Even ordering a different sandwich at Subway is enough to send their fragile souls into a tailspin.
Others enjoy change. You could ask them to drop everything and move halfway around the world, and they would be rubbing their hands together with glee.
The Christian walk is no exception.
A spiritual metamorphosis occurs when we first commit our life to Christ. God gives us a new nature, a new heart, transforming us from the inside out; we emerge a new creation.
As we go on with Him, the challenge for us becomes actively participating with Him as He pushes us to new heights and in new directions.
In Isaiah 54:2, the Lord tells us to
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”
He doesn’t want us to stay as we are but continually seeks to broaden our understanding and experience of Him.
First, the hermit crab has the uncomfortable realisation that the shell is too cramped.
Within us, this can be a yearning that there’s something more, something we’re missing. We can be dissatisfied where we are.
Next for the hermit crab is the resolution to move on. The shell won’t do anymore.
This stage can be difficult for us. After all, we like our comforts. The security that the tight shell affords us can sometimes even discourage us from venturing out! This is where some people halt the process. I don’t want to change, some say. It’s too painful. It’s too unsettling. It’s too unknown. We hear God’s voice directing us, and we hold back.
The prophet Jeremiah had this to say about the country of Moab, but it applies to a Christian resistant to change as well:
“Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another– she has not gone into exile. So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged.”
This is what happens to us when we sit for too long in one place – even a place that we think is good! Our ‘taste’ begins to stagnate, our smell begins to stink. The frightening truth is we seldom are even aware of it. We can think, nah, I’m all right. I don’t need to change. When the reality is maybe we’ve lost some of the saltiness that Jesus says will draw people to Him. Our light has dimmed and we don’t even know it.
We’ve got to trust Him when He says it’s time to go.
We’ve got to push past our own unwillingness to change and look for the new thing He wants to do.
When the hermit crab strikes out, he faces the vulnerability of transition. He has to leave the protection of his home in search of another, larger abode. He has to leave behind what he knows for the unknown.
Isn’t that like us? I can’t tell you how many times God has asked me to strike out for what I cannot see. Often I will look back yearningly on where I just left because I don’t know where I’m going. God has to coax me along. I am with you, He says. I am bringing you to a broad place. Come on, over this rise, through the valley, and then see what I have for you.
Finally, the hermit crab finds what he’s been searching for. An empty, larger shell. He moves in. He stretches out. Wow. So much room!
We do the same thing when God settles us in a new place. Maybe it’s a deeper understanding of His love, or a new revelation of His grace. Perhaps He’s given us some insight to the things He’s called us to and has challenged us to pick up some new responsibilities.
We look around and we wonder how we could’ve been satisfied in the space we were before.
God leads us to a new and larger experience because He loves us. Because He wants us to be closer to Him. Because He knows it is the best place for us to be.
Psalm 18:19 tells us
“He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”
That’s our God!
He’s got good plans for us that require us to change, to grow, to move. Are you ready?
What’s your reaction to the change God has brought to your life? I’d love to hear your comments!