Summary: For Remembrance Sunday, celebrating the lives of those who had passed away during the previous year: We resist change because we fear failure and we fear temporariness. But faith launches us and God equips us to new things.
Why do some of us embrace change and others of us resist change? Why do some people look for new things to do, search for new things to learn? But others of us resist until our dying breath doing anything but what we’ve always done? Why is that? Why do we approach to life so very differently?
Some people, no matter how old they get, remain on the cutting edge. They are excited about getting to visit a new city or see a new country. They relish the thought of tasting exotic foods. They hope to learn new skills, they want to see new sights, meet new people, find new truths. There are some people who live right up until they die. They embrace change; they anticipate new challenges. Adventuresome spirits.
But then there are the rest of us who resist change, and I suspect this is where most of us are. I know this is where I am. I resist change. Some of us stick with the tried and true, and, well, if it isn’t true, we’ll stick with it just because it has been tried. I stick with things, come you-know-what or high water. My wife gets so put out with me, because we will go to a restaurant, where there are a number of innovative, intriguing-sounding dishes on the menu. And I will dutifully read about each one, I will carefully consider each exotic item. And then, predictably, I will order beef and potatoes, beef and potatoes. I’ve eaten so much beef and potatoes, I think I must have mad cow disease! But I don’t like to experiment with food! I stick to things!
The other day Margaret pointed out an ad in the newspaper. Doesn’t this seem like a good deal? Fly to France, use the trains there, rent a car, take the chunnel to Britain, and drive there! All for one package price. Yes, I agreed, the price sounded good. Yes, I’d like to travel. But go to France?! Drive in France? I’ve never been to France. (But then I guess that’s the point!) I don’t speak French. I might get lost.
Maybe … what if ... I don’t know. I’ve never done that before! Do you see? What is it that makes me resist change? What is it that inhibits me from trying something new? Why do some of us love to get into new things, and others of us cling to the old as if our very lives depended on staying put?
Now there is something that is hard for us stick-in-the-muds to admit. I want you to notice that change is inevitable. Moving from where we are now to somewhere else is going to happen. Change is a fact of life, and of death. Death comes to all of us, sooner or later; it is a journey from life to death that summons all of us. But many of you, I heard you, at the time of your loved one’s funerals, you lifted up an image right from the Bible, right from this passage in Hebrews. You said, "He is in a better place now." You sang, "This world is not my home". A better place. Listen to the Bible. "They desire a better country ... a better country ... and God has prepared a city for them."
The Bible suggests that the key issue is faith. Faith. The key element is believing that God has called us from what has been toward what is not yet. Willingness to change is a matter of faith in God. The Bible suggests that we need to start listening for the call of God to move from where we are now to what the Bible calls a "better country".
The story of Abraham is a picture of what God can do with a person who confronts his fear of change with one key faith decision. The decision to embrace change as God’s call. The decision to see change as God’s call to a better country is the decision that will help us go beyond our natural resistance to change.
I see two issues. I see first, the fear of failure; and second, I see the fear of being unsettled. I see the fear of failure, our lack of confidence in ourselves; and I see the fear of being unsettled, I see our losing a vision for the future. But I submit to you that once we discover that God is calling us to a better country, we can overcome these two fears.
One reason we resist change is the fear of failure. We hesitate to try anything new, because we are afraid we might fail at it. We lack confidence in ourselves. As I read my own heart, I see that one reason I don’t attempt new things is that I am afraid I might fail.