Change Is a Verb
I know this title may invoke the sarcastic thought, “Wow James, you’re a genius”, but stick with me and I think, in the end, you will understand why I picked it. Plus, I am currently in four hours of Spanish class a day and we are currently discussing verb tenses so, if nothing else, cut me some slack.
Change is a verb. The phrase is short and seemingly out of a basic grammar class, but it is extremely powerful when someone actually believes it and lives it out. While change being a verb as opposed to another type of word or just a piece of information may seem pretty trivial, I believe it actually changes everything. You see, the word verb implies action. For something to change or be transformed, as some might say, something has to happen. There has to be movement from what once was to what is now. Change also isn’t something that typically happens without intention on someone or something’s part. It doesn’t have to be the person or thing that is changing, but change does not normally occur “just because”. This may seem like a pretty simple concept, but living it out on a daily basis can be pretty challenging. Many times, I think it is easier to just assume things will be different one day. The problem with this assumption, however, is it is almost always untrue. Imagine if I were to tell you the best way to train for a marathon was to sit on your couch and watch TV. Wouldn’t you think I didn’t really understand what it meant to run 26.2 miles? So why is it so often we assume change that is far more important, life change, is going to happen this same way? Might it be time to consider a different strategy?
My answer to this question would be yes. In my experience, the only way real, sustainable change happens is by having a clear vision of what you hope to become and then to intentionally move towards that picture. By having a clear picture and believing you can actually become that person, I believe you will have the energy and resolve necessary to get there. This is especially true if you are a Christ Follower. As Paul says in Ephesians 4, Followers of Christ can “put on the new self”, which, in Christ, is the self you were created to be. The implications of this are remarkable. It means we are not aiming for something that is an idea or unattainable, but for something we are meant to be. This, in turn, means that by taking action and committing to continually changing, we are being more true to the person we now are in Christ. That’s not to say we do it on our own. In fact, it is much the opposite. Our job is to move away from who we used to be, which can certainly linger, and take steps towards the person we are becoming, but it is God’s job to make the “new self” a true reality. In the end, only God makes things grow. As we are faithful to our part of change, God will be faithful to His and, as it says in Colossians 3, we will be renewed in the image of the Creator.
Moving from the theoretical to the practical, I have had the pleasure of being a part of a few groups of guys over the past three or four years that truly believes this and commits to living it out. This great opportunity was in the context of Ironman, a discipleship group Reid, my good friend and pastor, and I started along with a couple of other people after I went through similar training with Pat Goodman, a Pastor at Grace Fellowship church in Timonium, MD. These guys commit thirty weeks of their lives to becoming a different kind of person for the rest of their lives. In Ironman, change is expected and intention is required. This has not only had a great impact of the lives of the guys who have gone through the thirty weeks, it has had a profound effect on me. I am certainly a different person because I put myself in a position to be grown by God. As part of this group, we also ask the guys to commit a long weekend to going to Nicaragua. Not only is this a neat opportunity to serve the Lord and see how God is working in other parts of the world, it is also an incredible chance to allow God to stretch you. So, on Thursday, April 26th, 2012, a group of the guys who have spent thirty weeks together training to be different will have the opportunity to live that out here in Nicaragua. We are all looking forward to how God might use this time in our lives and the lives of the people with whom we interact.
This incredible little verb doesn’t have to be personal; change can also happen on a macro scale. It is this belief that has led me and many others to follow God’s call to places like Nicaragua. At times, the challenges seem insurmountable, but I believe change can happen and, through the power of God, this country can be different. While I may or may not see the final result, I do know lives and generations of people in Nicaragua will be forever altered because of the love of Christ and His people. I believe, by giving people a bigger picture of who they can become and were created to be in this life, we will have the opportunity to tell them who it was that created them and wants them to be made eternally new. This is why the phrase “change is a verb” matters far more than some grammatical rule or words on a page. It changes everything.
What will you do?