Saturday, September 10, 2011

When Climate Changes...

I was viewing my friend's pictures on Facebook when my attention was diverted to a huge sign posted on the background building.  "Climate Change: Act and Adapt"  That got my attention.  This is related to a British campaign to cut carbon emissions.  Being me, I began to weigh the truth and meaning of the phrase.

Change is a shifting of conditions and of things.  Change is constantly happening - environmental climate, social climate,  emotional climate, financial climate, and spiritual climate. Our climate changes us but we can choose the manner that we are changed.

Action is what we do externally. Our actions are regulated by the force that lies inside - the heart. Ideally, it is the implementation of a carefully laid plan. But when the heart is not properly harnessed, it gets corrupted by our circumstances. In which case, the resulting action is very random and undependable.

Change is not bad.  It is what we do in response that will ultimately upgrade or devalue our class.  We can capitalize on change to achieve noble goals or be a victim of change because we did not adapt.  To adapt is to absorb some of the changes around us without compromising the integrity of the heart.   To preserve our integrity in the eyes of God while withstanding environmental changes requires choosing to change behaviors that are detrimental.  We all know that wisdom and understanding only come to us by God's grace.  The ability to choose well improves with our closeness to God and His precepts.

God allows change to test our hearts.  Sometimes He funnels blessing into our hands so that we could mature; in turn bless others when we spread the joys of having.  In the book of Luke 12:13-21 we read about a man who changed to be a very rich man.  He liked the change on the quantity of the blessings but he did not act to adapt to the situation that was changing his heart.  He had so much that all he saw was the blessing.  He was too busy managing his wealth to notice his own shifting character.  The smoke of selfishness and greed clouded his heart. He missed his chance to use his prosperity as a staging point of love to glorify God and to care for others.  The next day he was going to die and rot.  He lived a wasted life.  A positive change for a negative result.

Job's life was changed when God allowed Satan to test the integrity if his allegiance to God.  He lost everything but he remained faithful to God.  His conditions changed when he lost all his family and wealth.  "God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. Yet I was not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face." (Job 23:16-17  NIV).   Job had two options in dealing with the severe changes in his life: 1) to passively allow his tragic circumstances to weaken his faith in God or 2) to consciously choose to strengthen his faith by reminding himself of the majesty of God.

God allows change to renew our circumstances.   Ruth was a Moabites.  Through her marriage to a Jew she gradually learned about God.  Her knowledge was changing her mind and heart.  Soon her husband and father-in-law died.  Mother-in-law, Naomi, now returns to her home land - Israel.  It was time for Ruth to choose between her people and those of her mother-in-law's that worshipped the God that she now knows.  She could have chosen to stay home and later marry another man in Moab.  Yet she followed her mother  in law Naomi because she knew that was the right thing to do.   God honored her righteousness and preserved her.  She would soon be included in the lineage of Christ.   A negative change for a positive result. 

God allows change to renew us.   "Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though  outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Sometimes we see changes that seem to endanger our stability.  It happened before (Acts 19:23-41) and we see it happen now as in the recent economic downturn.  People do drastic moves to preserve status quo.   We can't even take a few degrees change in the temperature.  We turn on the heater when the mercury drops and turns on the AC when it rises.  Change continues around us and maintaining or improving our comfort level seems to be the business of our lives.  We spend so much time fighting the effects of change.  We are so concerned about the shifting world climate that we ignore the shifting of our hearts.  David became aware of this internal change that he asked God, "create in me a clean heart ...and renew a right spirit within me."  He realized that his heart was no longer the same.  His circumstances have moved him further away from God.  David took this time to seek the only thing he needed - God's grace. 

When our circumstances and fortunes change, it is time to get closer to God.  When our circumstances change it is not our job to undo the external change but to prevent the deterioration of our hearts.

~ o ~