These Changing Times

September 25th, 2008 by


With fall in the air, gas prices on the rise, and elections in the news, change is prevalent in everyone’s minds and hearts. Things that once seemed certain are no longer a constant reality: from the sporadic availability of gasoline to the faith that leaders will maintain their integrity and not shift with the changing political tides. From mudslinging in political campaigns to attention being brought to sin in certain leaders’ lives in various large ministries, confusion and feelings of betrayal can seem to outweigh feelings of hope and consistency. An inability to buy gas or even, at times, to pay for food, housing, and continued education can raise the question: “Is there anything that is dependable in this day and age?” Desktop computers are thrown out and traded in for smaller, faster laptops; cell phones and iPods are traded in for iPhones and Skype, and jobs, friends, cities, and even spouses and children are tossed out, at times, in the quest for something better. Still, in the trading of one thing for another, an emptiness remains, and the restless search continues for something to hold onto as the world around us spins breathlessly into change beyond our control.

It is clear that there is a shaking—a shifting going on—and a call to press into a new season or be left behind paralyzed by our fears. It seems that, world-wide, things are shaking, and in the shaking, God is asking us to answer the biggest question of our lives: “Who do we say that He is?” If we say He is good, we will trust Him no matter what things look like around us. If we say He is able, we will rest knowing that He will deliver us, and come through for us, and provide for us no matter what our hearts or circumstances say.

Years and years ago, Jesus faced His disciples and asked them that same question. Have you ever wondered why He did that? Why was it so important that they knew at that moment who He was to them? He started by asking them who others say that He is. They answered that some said He was John the Baptist; some said He was Elijah. In other words, in the world around them, the people were ready to accept Jesus as a Voice that could speak into their lives sometimes, or a great Prophet who could perform miracles at their request. But Jesus needed His disciples to go one step further than that. He wanted them to know Him as the Son of God: the only One greater than any need and who cares for them in the midst of any circumstance. Why? Because everything around the disciples was shifting and shaking, and because Jesus Himself was about to move in a way that they had never seen. The world was asking for a sign, and crying out for God to come in a way of their own design, but Jesus was asking His disciples to believe in Him and trust in Him, and to know Him so their own identities would be secured.

Have you ever tried to receive directions when you are in a strange place—perhaps, out of town at a friend’s, or visiting another country calling from the hotel lobby, or having just moved into a new home where you are learning your way around? You call up information for the number and then dial up the place you wish to visit, or perhaps, you look up Mapquest on Internet Explorer and type in the desired location. You will quickly realize your task is impossible if you do not know your starting point. You can’t get where you are going if you don’t know where you are coming from. Quickly, you’ll look around for someone—anyone—who can tell you where you’re at so you can then find out where you need to go. It is the same with knowing who we are. We can’t know who we are and where we’re going (what our purpose is in life) until we first find a starting point. For that reason, Jesus gave His disciples their starting location. He spoke comfort to them in the midst of a changing world: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going…” He finished by saying, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Why did Jesus say all of these things? He was reminding the disciples of who He’d called them to be: His. He came as the Son of God and secured our hope; He made a way back to the Father’s heart, and He BECAME for us THE Way; THE Truth; THE Life. Now, in knowing Him, we will not be troubled when trouble comes. We will know that He is for us and that He will continue to give us life—long after this life is over—if we trust in Him. As a result, we aren’t afraid when changes come. Jesus as the Truth becomes greater than any lie: “You’re not going to make it. This is hopeless. There’s no way out,” becomes instead, “He cannot lie. He is good. He will not leave. I am His. If I trust Him, and know Him, and put my life in His hands, and know Him as my Lord—the One over every area of my life—I know that I’m okay. My identity is sure. No one can take away my worth or steal my future. He will be there through each season.”

Once Peter spoke up and called Jesus Lord, Jesus answered that, “Upon this rock,” He would, “build [His] Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mat 16:18). Knowing Jesus as He is gives us a confidence that no power of hell can shake. In naming Him Lord, we name ourselves as “His”, and we can know that He takes care of His sheep. He will never desert us. Once we see Him as THE Way; THE Truth; THE Life, we see who we are in Him and nothing can shake us from that place of standing firm…not even when all the world changes around us. We can let Him move in our lives and remove what we once held so tightly to, because we’ll know that we can trust Him. He is God, and He is able, and He is good.

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