By Pastor Mark Shupe
In professional baseball (oh how I am missing watching the Rockies), one of the most effective pitches a pitcher can utilize is called the change-up. A fast ball will come at a hitter around 90-95 mph (some pitches will reach 100 mph), but a change-up is thrown with an average speed of 75-80 mph. That unexpected speed of the pitch throws off a batter’s balance, timing and rhythm, and often leads to a swing and miss, pop-up, or a weak ground ball out.
Life is full of change-ups – those events and circumstances that come at us when we are not ready, when we least expect them, and they throw off our sense of timing and balance. The off-speed pitches of life certainly include the current coronavirus pandemic, disease, death, closing of schools, shut-down of businesses, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, and the overall lack of freedoms that used to be a normal part of our lives.
How can we negotiate and handle the change-ups of life in such a way that allows us to keep swinging out hits? How can we view and process the changes of life in such a way that grows and matures us, molds and shapes us into the image and likeness of Christ?
We handle the change-ups of life by accepting and adjusting. We need to accept the fact that change is a normal part of the cycle and rhythm of life.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”
Life is full of specific events that take place at God-ordained or God-allowed times.
Consider for a moment the magnitude of change the Israelites experienced on their journey out of Egypt (slavery and captivity) into the promised land (freedom and fulfillment). Along the route, their way of life was altered in so many unexpected and unpredictable ways. Plans were interrupted, daily provisions were switched, plagues had to be dealt with, many battles were fought with surrounding enemies, and a major leadership change was placed upon the people.
The Hebrews were constantly having to accept changes that were thrown at them while continuing to trust in their unchanging, constant and faithful God. A good model for us to remember today as we deal with the magnitude of so many changes at one time.
A second way we handle the change-ups of life is adjusting our heart and mind to the changes of life. English Philosopher Alan Watts said: “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Instead of getting emotionally, intellectually and spiritually bent out of shape, we can view changes in life as opportunities to learn and grow.
Part of that adjustment is to think of change as a means God uses to bring about some personal growth and development in us. Change can serve as a kind of marker in our spiritual and personal maturity, a check point, a reminder to make sure our hearts and our minds are in alignment with the heart and mind of God.
Well-known pastor and author Chuck Swindoll once said: “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”
To think about: