How we respond in this season could influence what we receive in the next.
“Change is inevitable.” These are the only words I remember from Mr. Stan’s history class in high school, but they were branded into my memory. Political leaders come and go, nations rise and fall, economies grow and contract; and God sits at the epicenter of it all.
We are accustomed to change. But change typically happens within the construct of normality. By this I mean that we expect things to change but not overnight, and certainly not drastically. When sudden and steep change occurs, it becomes more than a disruptor; it becomes a destabilizer. Everything is thrown into chaos, and in its wake new structures must be put in place to reestablish some sense of normalcy and stability.
A Trajectory of Change
The world was already undergoing seismic change prior to COVID-19: the 2008 global financial crisis, the elections of presidents Barack Obama (the first black U.S. President) and Donald Trump (the reality TV president), the Arab spring, the Iranian nuclear deal, the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. But then came the coronavirus, which was compounded by the recorded deaths of unarmed black men during interactions with law enforcement – in particular, George Floyd.
Even in the church, we have witnessed countless pastors resign for any number of indiscretions, several others commit suicide, and a new crop of pastors take the helm of historic churches. We have watched denominations split over what we thought was settled doctrine, multisite churches dissolve, and the traditional choir become a relic of the past.
What is happening? Change.
This change is different, though. It’s disruptive and destabilizing. We are all going back to the drawing board to modify the structures of our families, businesses, and churches. We have been forced to do some deep soul searching, and, for some of us, the future is more frightening than the past. But it doesn’t have to be, nor should it.
God’s Reign, Our Responsibility
The “Teacher” in Ecclesiastes informs us: “For everything there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth” (3:1 NET Bible). The broader context of the Teacher’s insight is that God is ultimately superintending the events that happen in the world, but within His providence is a responsibility that we have to respond appropriately.
To say it another way, when God changes things, we must change with Him.
How we respond to the period of time that God allots us – between our birth and death – is up to us. Each event and experience in life offers us the opportunity to respond wisely or foolishly. The wise person will respond with a biblically-informed strategy. The fool will react atheistically.
Wisdom calls for us to reverence the Lord and consult Him for guidance and direction. He alone understands exactly how His will is being played out over the course of human history. How we respond will be different, based upon our individual contexts. But one thing we can all do (as tri-unified beings) is re-evaluate our spiritual, psychological, and physical state. It may be that the change around us is to precipitate a change within us.
An Integrated Life
When our spirit is misaligned, we are unsynchronized to the Spirit of God. When our mind and emotions are misaligned with our spirit, we think and feel foolishly. And when our bodies are misaligned with our spiritual and psychological self, we neglect the care and maintenance of the instrument through which our spirit and psychology find expression. Quite simply, to be misaligned is to be dis-integrated. And dis-integrated people live asynchronous lives.
The urgency of this moment calls for people to, more now than ever, live integrated lives. If our spirit, soul, and body are misaligned, we are not able to move in synchronicity with what God is doing. We are human beings having a human experience, which means all of us – spirit, soul, body – must change in the midst of the change we are experiencing in the human world.
Prepare Now for What Comes Next
We can use this time of pause to realign the totality of our lives in preparation for what comes next. The “time to gather stones” (v.5) is when we are preparing to build. We may not know when this disruption will end, but we do know that it will. Therefore, we must prepare now for what comes next. Corporations, governments, and institutions are doing it; but are we?
Change ushers in the new. New requires different systems, structures, processes, and practices. For new wine cannot be poured into old wineskins (Mark 2:22). Are you preparing in this season of change for the next season that is soon to come? God is giving us time to gather stones, but we must respond appropriately to position ourselves now for what’s coming next.
What are some ways to gather stones in this season of change?
Start or maintain your daily devotion with God. This is where you will receive your biblically-informed strategy.
Feed your mind with Christian and constructive books, articles, audio, and videos.
Start or maintain your daily exercise (of 30 minutes or more), improve what you intake into your body, and establish a sleep rhythm.
Set some goals or revisit the ones you already have.
Create a plan to reach your goals or work the one you have.
Carve out space each week to spend several hours engaging in a leisurely activity you enjoy.
Look for new connections, opportunities, learnings, and experiences.
Change is in the atmosphere. It is so thick we can cut it with a butter knife. But remember, it is only a period of time at a point in time. God is superintending the time, but we must wisely engage in the appropriate activity.
Rev. Isaac Hayes is the president of Healing of the Soul Ministries. He is also an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL, and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.