New Things in a Bigger World
We have three frogs in our backyard—not the green slimy kind, but rather metal sculptures with lots of personality. They are, as my wife calls them, some of our “lawn pretties.” However, these are not just ordinary frog statues but frogs with musical talent: One has a guitar, another a flute, and the third one is playing the drums. We named them Chuck, Ian, and Ringo after rock musicians. (For those of you old enough, you should recognize their famous namesakes.) We acquired them several years ago to add a touch of whimsy to our flowerbeds. It worked great for the first several years but the perennial plants that surrounded them finally filled in the area and the frogs were hidden from view. For a few years, we even didn’t bother putting them out because after all, what’s the use if no one could see them.
Then I hit upon an idea. Why put them in the same fixed place year after year? So we decided to move them out into the yard—which worked fine until it was time to mow the grass. Each week, I would pull them up, put them aside until the lawn was done, and then I would put them right back where they had been. After a while, I grew tired of this, realizing how boring this had become. One week I decided to surprise my wife and I lined them up, one behind the other. Now instead of a concert band, they took on the look of a marching band. What a difference this simple change made!
This practice has continued. Each time I mow the yard, I make it a point to never put them back exactly where or how I found them. Sometimes, they march across the yard; other times they huddle around our bedroom window, providing a (silent) serenade. I know it may sound silly but this had added amazing variety to the yard and always gives us a laugh. It is something how this little adjustment to our yard (and lives) has made such a big difference.
Our lives are like this all too often. We get set in a certain way and manner of doing things and after a while, it becomes so much part of who we are that we find ourselves in a rut. It can happen so innocently. We choose one way to drive to work or school and we like it so much, we never try another route. What if there is another route that is shorter or more scenic or less traffic or better in the winter? And yet we stick with our same old route because it is comfortable to us.
It happens in all areas of life. We watch the same TV shows. We listen to the same newscasters. We read the same magazines. We talk to the same people. We dig our rut deeper—but it has been said that a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.
The church is as guilty as we are of living in a rut. Last Sunday, someone new walked into the sanctuary. I walked up to greet her as I do everyone and asked her about herself. Her first question to me, however, was sad: She wanted to know if it was ok to sit in a certain pew or did it belong to somebody. Yes, it belongs to someone: God, and He shares with everyone! However, understanding her concern, I told her that wherever she sat, it was totally hers.
Talk about a rut! Is this the way the church portrays itself? That someone coming in new would ask such a question? It boggles the mind but she is not the first new person to ask if they would “get in trouble” for sitting in someone’s pew. That is a sad state of affairs and I pray that her question did not come from a bad experience somewhere else.
We all need to change up our lives from time to time. Sometimes we miss the greatest opportunities because we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone. That is certainly not the kind of God we serve or the world that he envisioned. In Revelation, John writes about Jesus on this throne, using these words: Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new” (Revelation 21:5, CEB). We know that when Christ comes again, he will make all things new but we don’t have to wait for the Second Coming to make our lives new. Way back in the book of Isaiah, the prophet wrote of God doing new things: The things announced in the past—look—they’ve already happened, but I’m declaring new things (Isaiah 42:9, CEB).
God did not create a world where everything would remain the same. He created a living world that is constantly changing and bringing forth new life in and around us. The words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth sum it up best: So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, CEB). If we are “in Christ,” then we are a work in progress—and that means change.
I hope that you will add more variety—a newness—to your life. Take baby steps if you must, but “force” a change on yourself and your life today. The change doesn’t have to be huge—hopefully more than just moving a few metal frogs around the yard—but even that is a start.
Decide today where you can be more in Christ and let him change you into the person you were meant to be in him. Change up your life by walking a different pattern and exploring the bigger picture. Don’t get caught doing the same thing over and over simply because it’s comfortable. Move out of that cozy flowerbed of life and into the “wilds” of the bigger yard. You’ll be surprised at how it can transform your life.
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