There is in most of us a deep uncertainty and tension about change. On one hand, you want to grow, develop, and expand. Even when it brings anxiety, you may like some level of adventure. Growing is a part of who you are. The idea of becoming more than you are is exciting.
On the other hand, you recoil at the change. There is fearful anxiety of the unknown. What will the “not-yet-experienced” be like? Then, when someone or something even suggests that you change, you defend yourself, dig in, and protect who you are.
Then there is the tendency to do nothing. You just don’t want to make the effort to adjust to what change means or calls forth?
These are some of the inner challenges you face as you change and grow. That is why I ask the question: Do you want to grow? As a Jesus follower, do you want to become who God has created you to be?
Are you willing?
If you have been baptized, I assume that you have said, at least symbolically, “I want to grow” or “I am ready to grow.” Because with baptism, you respond to God’s invitation to grow into who God has created you to be. So, you have a desire to grow. That is what you bring to growth, your desire, your willingness, your response to God’s invitation.
You know, that really is all you bring to the process of growth: your willingness or unwillingness. You are created so that you can choose to either grow toward God’s dream for you or to set yourself against the tide and refuse it. If you want to grow, there is no end to what you can become. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.” (I Corinthians 2:9) But if that desire does not exist, because it has been choked out by fear or pride or shame or resistance, not even the God who made heaven and earth is willing to force it upon you.
Questions from Jesus
Do you remember the story of Jesus walking beside the pool of Bethesda? There were sick people gathered by the pool. The tradition was that when the waters stirred an angel was nearby and the first person to get into the pool would be healed of his/her affliction. People came from all around with the hope of being healed. As Jesus moved through the gathering of sick people, his attention was drawn to one man who had been lying there for thirty-eight years. Jesus went over to him asked, “Do you want to be healed?”
On the surface that sounds like a ridiculous question. That man had been waiting for thirty-eight years. Of course, he wants to be healed. Yet Jesus was aware that change is never simple. Have you read the story? The man’s response reveals his uncertainty and tension regarding change. He begins to make excuses and shifts the blame to other people. He says, “The problem is, I have no one to help me into the pool. When the water bubbles, someone else always gets in ahead of me.”
Notice that Jesus does not let him sidestep the issue. Jesus asks him again, “Do you want to be healed?” I can imagine the conversation going like this, “Man, the real issue is your willingness to be healed. Have you become so accustomed to this life of lying here and blaming others that you really don’t want to change? After all, there are benefits to being sick. No one expects anything of you. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to face the pressures of being active. You don’t have to do anything any different than what you have been doing.
Truthfully, would you really accept the help if it were offered? You would have to become vulnerable enough to acknowledge you need help and then accept it. You must swallow pride and shame and a sense of self-sufficiency. So, I am asking you the real question. Here and now, do you want to be healed?”
For the first time in thirty-eight years, the real issue was spelled out for the man. He could no longer evade it or blame it on someone else. So, when confronted by Jesus, the man dared to say, “Yes, I want to change.” Immediately the process of healing began. A thirty-eight-year cycle was broken, and a new way of living began to take shape. He began to take responsibility for carrying his own load rather than being carried.
Sure, there were pains in this new life. Significant change brings both gain and loss. But, look at the new possibilities available to the man. Once he made the decision to grow, to change, he had a whole new world before him. It is the same for you when you are willing to become vulnerable by stepping out in courage to brave the new reality. The good news is, it is never too late to start growing again. You are never too old to start. If after thirty-eight years of immobility this man could begin to move again, why can’t you?
Do you want to grow? As a Jesus follower, are you willing to do what it takes to become who God has created you to be? If so, then here is what you need to do:
- Name four trusted friends with whom you are willing to become vulnerable.
- Through prayer and reflection, focus upon who God has created you to be. Test your desires with your friends.
- Trust your friends to name what must be addressed for you to step out in courage to brave your new reality?
- What one thing will you do, today, to step into that new reality?
- Now, with the love, care, and encouragement of your friends, step out in faith to live the life God created for you.
Do you want to grow? If you do, then the sky is the limit.
God is “able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20.
There is nothing more basic than the desire to grow. If the desire is present in your life, no number of obstacles can keep God from finishing that which God has begun. If the desire is not present, then not even our great creator God can make God’s dream come true.
Do you want to grow? Then, in the name of Jesus, get started!