Commentary: Growth and Change

Change does not always equal growth, but when you grow, change always happens inevitably.

Take children for example, when they change, it could be for better or for worse, they are not always growing. On the other hand, when they grow, things always change. They grow out of their clothes, shoes, sometimes, habits, and they are able to gain more privileges. Things change, life changes.

This sprang up in my spirit when I was praying about growth. I think that so often we pray for God to remove us from situations, we pray for our lives and situations around us to change, but we do not always pray for growth. I am getting to a place in my life now where I am searching for God in everything. I am expecting Him to be there and show up! I am expecting Him to grow me up in the midst of the situation while not just changing the circumstances in which I find myself.

Life can wound us. Sometimes, these are things that are self-inflicted and sometimes God allows us to just be still in situations. This has been one of the rockiest seasons of my life. It’s amazing how so quickly the Lord can bless us with something and then ask for His Isaac back. Like he asked Abraham, the Lord asked for my Isaac back. Maybe I had begun to idolize my blessing. Maybe God wanted to check for Himself, while at the same time allowing me to see whether or not my Isaac was in its rightful position in my life. Like Abraham, God has given me the ram in the bush. He has not allowed my Isaac to be slaughtered, but He did make me sacrifice and offer it up as a burnt offering. We never question how much time Abraham spent looking over his son with the knife in his hand. I was in that moment for a long time; that was a really long season for me. I am now in a place of resting; I was able to put the knife down, I hear the ram in the bush, but my Isaac is still tied up and bound, I am yet able to free Isaac, yet Isaac stares at me, in confusion, not in peace, not in complete freedom, yet not even knowing that he could free himself or that the same God I pray to is the same God he can call on. How do you explain that the same God who told me to sacrifice my Isaac is the same God who gave me the Isaac, is the same God who told me to bind Isaac, yet the same God who can free Isaac? How do you explain this God?

In that instance, the knife in my hands above my head and the moment I was able to set it to rest, those were instant moments of growth. No, the situation was not easy or comfortable. But no, I did not then and I have not now asked to be removed from the situation. I could ask “why, why God.” But what would that do for me? What would questioning an all-mighty, omniscient and omnipresent God do for me? Would it change me? Yes, but it would only increase my frustration and possibly create emotional instability. Sometimes I believe that we get frustrated when we feel like God does not hear us, but maybe it is because we are asking the wrong questions. So I choose for my question to be “What would You have me to do God?” I choose to make the Lord, not just my God, but my Lord in my life. So I ask, “What would You have me to say, Lord? Where would You like me to go?” In the moments of conflict, in the moments of fear, I realize that my fear of the Lord is always bigger. There is peace in the fear of the Lord. There is more knowledge and revelation in knowing that He is sovereign and that whatever He chooses is good, even if it feels not so good to the flesh, it is good to the spirit and for my total well-being. I choose to believe that everything is working out for my good because I love Him. In that moment of frustration and pain, I learned more about God and myself. In that moment of major sacrifice, I was able to grow.

Even though I am still on the mountain, knife still in hand, Isaac still bound, I am growing. Though my situation and circumstance has not yet completely changed, I am growing. I am growing out of old mindsets of myself and of God. I am growing out of old perspectives on life and on how God moves, works, and will speak. I am no longer mourning my situation and singing Eloi, Eloi Sabachtani, but realizing that God was there the whole time, right in the midst. I am now growing out of the garments of grief and into the garments of God’s grace. In every choice to be like Christ, choice to choose, choice to grow, there is change. Although change does not always make you grow, growth always encompasses change. Lord, I want to grow!

 

Barbara Fant

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Poem: Lives of Fire

Lives of Fire

(For Next Generation Fellowship Program)

For the dreamers, night shakers, difference enhancers, star gazers, for you,

Who build lives into backbone, we mistook these shoulder blades for airplanes, caught our limbs in the sky, so they named us feathers of fly,

For we flock of the same shade

On this island, where we found ourselves every month describing our emotions’ moments in the breath of simplistic phrases, filing through pages of our lives, diving into quotes and guest speakers that often wore our own reflections, testing our soul’s honesty

Sifting through self, swallowing snapshots of each other’s failures, as if it were salvation

Discussing leadership “do’s and don’ts,” “definite and disappointments,” “development and donor relations”

We understand these relations more than we know, don’t quite understand our glow, how these artistic nonprofits always ask us to paint their faces with our brush strokes,

Land, where vulnerability cast her net into the sea of our insecurities and caught the golden fins of our hearts, we are more now than we were then, brothers into men, sisters into women, the hymn of camaraderie’s crescendo in our wombs,

As we sat, assessing ourselves through poems, carving ourselves into the imprint of our own novels, allowing the forested woods of our lives chisel us into our own nakedness,

It is here, where I learned to shed my skin, where “that woman from that one nonprofit,” actually became my friend

Here, where we wipe each other’s tears , from each other’s plates we food, souls growing plum on each other’s stories,

Everyday, using every gathered tool to teach us better how to lead

You weep when I weep, rejoiced when I rejoiced, caught my tears with every sweet voice, breathing through a hug or “I understand” or “you can make it” or “you will make it another day,” “this is just the beginning of your race,”

We found our voices in small space rooms, wide opened minds the size of Jupiter, discovering every galaxy that lives inside our peers,

Did you find your voice here? Did your voice find you here? Scraping landmines from your tongue into notepads, how my burdens found themselves in my fellow neighbor’s prayer

Land, where we peel back every layer of ourselves just to find ourselves,

And all these years, I’ve been searching for open wooden doors, not even realizing that I was made of cedar, my mouth a twisting doorknob, my tongue of metal key and I am turning, every new encounter flowing forward,

How so often we find ourselves walking on water, not realizing our strength, the fins of our limb’s faith

I shed the skin of other’s expectation and crawled out of my own

I don’t just call this NGL Fellowship, I call this place “home”

Swollen inside my belly like it’s a poem, found courage in the bleeding wounds of wrong turns, these mistakes were designed to learn,

Pour from my pores, yet I am not afraid of the rain of my life, this body of water, the ocean of my mouth rising with the sun,

Every new friend who won’t allow me to become complacent in my complacency, forces me to find comfort in my discomfort, and the more I know you, the more I discover me

How these months taught me to embrace every season of my earth, land where listening is the greatest virtue I could ever birth

How we pass this down to Next Generation like generations who came before, built an innovative culture of “more”

Where every generation weaves the fabric of rhythm into the next generation’s chest

Here, is where we lead with lives of lighthouses, light sabers of mouths, humility poured into our bones, community riding our backs, we’re focused and on track, voice thickening our paths,

I am because you are, No longer afraid of my midnight, for you became a star

You have funded this soul’s profit with just your smile,

So I charge you, to birth every galaxy in your belly, every morning shine bright

For you have been flame in my voice’s torch, inspired this journey with every blessing of miracle

I have called, “your life”