Change isn’t always kind and it often doesn’t ask permission. Sometimes it comes in like the fire we recently experienced here in Santa Clarita, tearing through the once peaceful landscape of our lives attempting to burn down everything we thought we could depend on.
To say our family has experienced some life changing circumstances recently would be an understatement. From becoming empty nesters – to navigating the territory of being parents to our adult children - to our precious granddaughters moving 2,000 miles away - to losing our beloved family dog of 12 years, life can seem like it’s not our friend anymore and there’s no good news to report.
I have cried more in recent months than I have in the past 10 years combined – or so it seems. There are no easy answers or quick fixes to most of the things we are facing these days. So hopefully that takes the pressure off of everyone.
Trust me, there are times I want the quick fix, because pain is, well … painful and I really don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable, humbling and scary. But then I remember God is with me always and I find myself sitting in the ashes of what the blaze has left behind and trusting he will bring new growth out of it.
Our church staff recently did a team building exercise at a local escape room. An escape room is a fun experience where you’re placed in a room and you solve puzzles, riddles, and clues to eventually “escape” from the space. If you don’t figure it out in the allotted amount of time, the host will come and let you out.
Real life isn’t like that. A timer doesn’t go off and we magically get out of our unpleasant circumstances. We’re “stuck in the room” so to speak, as we hopefully allow God to use our situation to change us into better people.
The book of Romans says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
When it comes right down to it, character is a choice. We can’t learn it in a classroom or by reading a book. Character is developed and grows as we journey through the ups and downs of life, but there is a cost involved. It is not donated. There are no freebies when it comes to character. Every bit is paid for when we stare difficult circumstances in the face and choose to trust God in spite of them.
Change happens and sometimes the fire chars our landscape. But we are not alone. We are never alone. God’s sitting right there in the ashes with us eagerly waiting the moment He can point out the first green sprout to break ground.