Five years back, Mick thought the right time had arrived to stop riding his bike. He looked back on many miles and a lot of trips with no problems, and a slew of great stories and memories. So he decided to quit while he was still ahead. To show his commitment, he gave his Honda Goldwing to his son-in-law. His riding days ended.
But his wife noticed how excited he got when bikes came up in conversations, how the stories got retold with a smile. Her take? “This man is not ready to give it up.” I’m not sure where we rode the next summer, but Mick didn’t miss it—he borrowed the bike back from his son-in-law. The next year his son-in-law wanted to join the ride, so Mick picked up a Honda Shadow 1100. A fine street bike but too low geared for long rides. He rode that another year, then went back to Goldwings. Early this September we five completed a two-week, 3,700 mile ride, ending a week before his 80th birthday. Seems still not ready to give it up.
Change is one of the constants in life (yeah, include death and taxes). God called Paul and Barnabas to be a mission team, until they had a disagreement and parted. On Palm Sunday, the crowd acclaimed Jesus as a Savior from God, but by the end of the week a crowd (very possibly a different group of people) they clamored for his crucifixion. Our role is to carefully sense the seasons of change, and navigate them with grace and faith.
At one church I should have resigned sooner—I’d lead them through a lot of changes and should have earlier left it for a fresh guy to enjoy the newness. Another time I should have stayed longer and helped resolve some issues that had long plagued the church. My two years in Taos delighted me, but God designed them as a season to move me into the next.
So, some tips. Embrace change as a constant, and enjoy the opportunity to grow and gain new experiences and get stretched. Work through seasons by bathing them in grace and wise input from others. One of my worst mistakes in some of those changes came from not taking time to consult with wise friends.
And, leave room for God to work. This verse impacted me decades back, and I’m still learning to use it, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Looking back over the decades, I better see his hand guiding and protecting me from my own plans and desires.
Also, let’s get our ego out of the way a bit. The brother of Jesus talked about making plans and cautioned us, “…say, ’If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:15-16, read also 13-14). We usually know less than we think we know.
Five years back, Mick listened to his wife and his heart, and gained at least five years of riding. But his riding will end at some point. If we keep a loose grip on things, it might be easier to sense the seasons.
Kick Starting the Application
Looking back, how well have you navigated change? What helped you in them? What caused some grief? Do you sense any changes that God or life might be hinting are on their way? How can you better get ready for them? If they arrive, how can you better work with them? How involved is God in your decisions and reactions?