20160104-Swindell-Change

This last year was a whirlwind of change for me. Our family uprooted from the city we had lived in for over a decade — the city where my husband and I fell in love, the city where we found our first jobs, the city where we figured out life as newlyweds, the city where we navigated serious sickness and struggle, the city where our daughter was born.

We had a home there, and not just a physical one. Our community, our church, our jobs — we had a place that we knew, and people who knew us. We were settled.

And then, God.

God opened a new door for us, one that we knew we were meant walk through. My husband had the opportunity to go to graduate school, and that meant moving to a new state, finding a new home, and starting a new life where we hardly knew anyone. It meant, essentially, change.

For me, change has always felt gut-wrenching, difficult, gear-grinding tight. I have never loved change; I have usually avoided it.

But this past year felt like a gift unwrapped for me, given by my heavenly father. Because I found, for the first time in my life, that I was not terrified of the unknown. What I experienced this past year, as I prayed for help to accept and embrace the changes we were facing, was grace.

Grace because — as we stepped into the unknowns of a new city and a new home, seeking out new jobs and friends and a church — I found that I was filled with hope. Fear, yes, but more hope than fear. I found myself filled with expectation, and even with joy.

What grace! Grace because — as we said yes in obedience to the call of God — we were given was joy.

I am learning that joy is the fruit of obedience; joy is the natural response of saying “Yes!” to God.

Jesus unfolds this very thing to His friends before He obeys — all the way to His death on the cross:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” {John 15:9-11}

God loves us! And  when He offers us a new chance to obey — a chance that will involve change and transition — He is, essentially, offering us a new shot at joy.

Because when we obey His commands — when we say yes to Him — we not only experience His love, but we receive the treasure trove of joy He has to offer.

That was the gift God gave to me last year. As I rubbed up against the fear of change and the fear of the unknown in our circumstances, I experienced joy in Him, even through the unknowns of what was ahead.

God formed in me the pearl of joy through the rub of obedience.

Our circumstances were foggy for months, half a year. Transitioning our lives to a new state and starting over relationally was not easy. But I found, again and again, a deep delight in being where God had called us, and in simply being with Him in the change.

He is, after all, the pearl of greatest price, the treasure trove of joy Himself.

When we embrace change in our lives out of obedience to Christ, we will find Him to be the greatest joy of all. Whether or not the situation gets better or harder or easier, we can experience deep joy — not because of the circumstances, but because Jesus is there with us, through it all.

Related: Place this eye-catching art print “I Call It Faith” in your home or office for ongoing inspiration to boldly express your faith and to keep trusting God in the everyday.

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  • http://www.buildinglifeslibrary.wordpress.com Amy M

    I loved this. Change is hard for me, too. Moving to my current town was hard, but I have experienced the joy of new friendships and deepening roots. We’ve got a possible impending move and accompanying change in church homes with it, and I keep trying to remind myself of the joy obedience to God’s will can bring rather than being anxious about what the future may hold.

    • http://www.annswindell.com Ann Swindell

      Thanks so much, Amy. I don’t know that change will ever get easier, but I’m so grateful that you have had deeper roots in the process! Blessings to you.

  • Marianne Rullmann

    Goodness me, You only moved in your own country! I’m jealous of you! I hated moving from childhood and then I had to move to all continents of the world, accept to Africa. So many different cultures, languages, temperatures :-) and after all that, my husband of 44 years left me! I can tell you that without God I would not have survived! I have wonderful brothers and sisters in my church here in Germany and thank God I may now stay here!

    • http://www.annswindell.com Ann Swindell

      I’m glad you have a wonderful church family in Germany, Marianne. Blessings to you.

  • howellfam4

    Such hope! Change is not a favorite when it means uprooting what we love and know…but the trade off for the new loves and unknowns are precious! This will be a big year of change over here too.
    Blessings,
    Jenny

    • http://www.annswindell.com Ann Swindell

      Amen to hope, Jenny! I don’t love change either–not sure if I ever will–but I love the One who leads us into those places, and He is worthy! Grace to you in the changes ahead–may you know his love more fully this year.

  • Rebecca Jones

    I moved about thirteen years ago. I think the Lord is about to make more changes for me, I do believe obedience brings joy, because I was not doing some of the things I loved and it was depleting my energy. I pray this is a year of restoration.

    • http://www.annswindell.com Ann Swindell

      Amen. I am saying a prayer for you now too, Rebecca–that this year will bring His restoration in your life.

  • http://www.annswindell.com Ann Swindell

    That’s so encouraging, Joyce! So thankful to see God bringing these true–and wonderful–things together for you.

  • Lovelle

    Ann this is so beautiful. Change is hard. The unknown is extremely difficult but wrapped in the confusion is a chance to grow in ways we couldn’t otherwise because we reach a point where we are forced to be completely dependent on God. Thank you for this wonderful post. I hope you are getting settled in your new home!
    ~ Lovelle from (in)courage

  • Beth Williams

    Ann,
    I, too, don’t like change. I have had too much change in the past 2-2.5 years. Unfortunately I didn’t get much joy from the changes I just obeyed God and did the best I could. I’ve been dealing with an aging dad with dementia and other health issues. So hard to watch a parent go down like this again!

    Blessings :)