Dealing with Change
Dealing with change is a given in today's fast paced world. Dennis was born and raised in one town and lived there for most of his first fifty-two years, except for the two years he spent in the army. I guess I should have warned him before he married me, it wasn't likely to stay that way...
I've been dealing with change my whole life. We moved at least seven times before I graduated from college, not counting moves from one house to another in the same area, only counting moves from one state to another.
In fact during my upper elementary years I claimed what Paul wrote..."I have learned in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content," as my life verse without fully realizing he wasn't actually referring to states of the union.
As a missionary you're constantly dealing with change. If you travel on short term mission trips, changes becomes even more constant. I can tell you truthfully one of the joys of heaven for me will be a lessening of changes, or a greater capacity for dealing with change.
Dealing with Change
Sharing the Details
If you've been following the latest additions to our site over the past few weeks, you know we've been dealing with change quite a bit recently. I'll just give a brief recap in case you've missed them:
- The pastor asked us to come back to Puerto Rico to install fire alarm system.
- We planned late spring trip for the month of May.
- We got tickets less than two weeks before trip.
- Five days before trip Dennis is diagnosed with Pneumonia.
- The doctor orders lab work, and advises us not to travel for four to six weeks.
These were the ways we'd been dealing with change up to last week's page on our Postponed Mission Trip. If you'd like more details you may want to read that page. We thought the changes were over then, and we could adjust to a normal spring here in Sullivan, but we were wrong again.
Two days after the pneumonia diagnosis, the clinic called and asked Dennis to get a CAT scan because of a "spot" the doctor saw on the X-ray. They asked him to get a blood test on Tuesday so they could do the scan on Wednesday.
I was initially quite concerned about this, but when I called back to talk with the nurse on Tuesday afternoon, we discovered that the blood test was unnecessary. (Although we'd already gone to town and had it done.) The lab work the doctor had ordered on Saturday had already covered that.
Anyway, additionally the nurse assured me that the spot could have been caused by the pneumonia itself, but they just wanted to be sure. So we went for the CAT scan on Wednesday.
On Friday morning we got a call from the clinic telling us they want Dennis to see a pulmonary specialist because the CAT scan revealed a "mass/lesion" 1.4 cm. wide by 3.3 cm. long on his right lung.
They informed us they had scheduled an appointment for us on July 8th, almost three full months away, to check it out!
After asking several more questions, I realized that they didn't have time to find a specialist who could see him sooner, so I'd need to do that.
No sooner had we hung up then our neighbor appeared. His wife works at a local hospital, and within about fifteen minutes we had the names of three specialists we could check with, in the area. Within the hour, we had an appointment scheduled for Friday May 6th, at 9:00 a.m.
So, as you can see, the Lord apparently has at least another week of dealing with change in store for us.
Dennis was very sick all last week, and I wasn't a whole lot better. After he shared with me I'd woken him up five times coughing during the night, I decided to try sleeping in the recliner the next night to see if it would help me sleep, instead of coughing. It did work some better.
I finally got an antibiotic from the same walk in clinic on Wednesday, and I'm definitely improving now.
It is the first time since we've been married that we missed all the Easter services, except for the sunrise service. We got in on that because it was scheduled at our house, and they said the pneumonia wasn't contagious.
However, Dennis was sick enough I didn't think I should leave him alone, and in retrospect, I think I was sick enough I shouldn't have gone out either. We spent most of the day sleeping. In fact, other than the required trips to town to get testing done, we spent a lot of time sleeping last week.
We've both finished our antibiotics now and are much improved, but time will tell how quickly we make a complete recovery.
Dealing with Change
Opportunity for Growth
I'll share a secret, dealing with change isn't my cup of tea. If I deal well with change, it is only by the grace of God.
I used to hate change with a passion, I still look forward to heaven in hopes of getting away from it. However, I've realized that change is necessary for growth, and growth is necessary for healthy living.
So my new goal is dealing with change gracefully, in God honoring ways.
I find the most difficult things about change are:
- it is outside our control
- the outcome is always uncertain
- bad things do happen in life
However, I've realized if I'm willing to cooperate with God, He will be glorified, and I can enjoy His peace no matter the circumstances. The question is...
How do I do that?
I'd like to share with you what the Lord has taught me previously, in hopes it will encourage you the next time you face uncertain changes, and remind me how I should be dealing with change, so I can be "a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only".
Dealing with Change
Making Right Choices
First let me say, if you don't know Christ as Savior, please read the page I've written about What does a missionary do, because without a relationship with Him, you can tough your way through life-threatening changes, but you won't have any hope in the process.
When dealing with change, especially unpleasant changes, we need the Lord. But even if we know Him, change isn't necessarily easily dealt with. We have no control over the changes, but we can control our reactions. We must choose between:
- Fear or Faith
- Self Pity, Anger, Bitterness, Numbness, or Gratitude
- Determined Resistance or Submissive Obedience
- Worry or Prayer
How can we make the right choices? I've always found the answers in the Word of God.
The Psalmist says "What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee", and when I've doubted God was good in the changes he allows in my life, my doubts are always cured by thinking about the truth behind Romans 8:32 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
Really, if God was willing to let Jesus die for my salvation, do I really think he is trying to make me miserable with what He is allowing right now?
Self pity, anger, bitterness, and numbness are all ways I want to react when God doesn't give me the changes I want in my life. But when I'm willing to "die" to my old self, and give thanks always for all things, as I'm commanded to do in Ephesians 5:20, I find myself able to focus on God, and His glory, instead of me, and my wants.
Determination is a good character trait, and one I've tried to cultivate, but when life doesn't go the way I've planned, it is easy to slide into stubbornness. To overcome that tendency in myself, I try to cultivate the attitude Christ had, as explained in Philippians 2:6-8, and Hebrews 12:2b.
By God's grace I trust I'll be able to rejoice in whatever the Lord allows, as long as He is glorified in our lives. I believe if we will simply keep our eyes fixed on Him, He will accomplish that in our lives.
Finally, a week to wait is much better than three months, but it would still be easy to fall into the worry trap. I've heard it said...
"Worry is God's punishment for lack of faith", but I think it might be better said, for lack of prayer. We're commanded to be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication to let our requests be made known to God. Then we're told that the result of those actions will be God's peace keeping our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6)
So my plan of action for this week of waiting will be to pray every time I'm tempted to worry, to thank God for his goodness, to thank Him for being our refuge in time of trouble, and to praise Him for His promise of sufficient grace for my weakness. I will choose to "Simply Trust Him" as the hymn says, and I will remember that God hasn't given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind.
Dealing with Change
Please Pray for Us
Thanks so much for your interest in us, and in our ministry. Please do pray for us, and with us, regarding these changes.
Of course, we're hoping that the CAT scan has shown nothing but lesions caused by the bout with pneumonia, that those will heal quickly, and that we'll soon be able to resume normal activities.
However, since God's ways aren't ours, we realize there are many other possibilities. We will keep you posted as we learn more.
Please pray the Lord will give wisdom to make the best decisions, if there is an underlying health challenge that caused the pneumonia, with which we'll need to deal. And pray the Lord will grant healing, in His Will.
When faced with uncertain changes, it is always good to remind ourselves that His way is perfect, His Word is tried, He is a buckler to all those that put their trust in Him. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble, and He has promised...
"When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers they will not sweep over you, when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze..." Isaiah 43:2.
We know He will be with us, whatever the future may hold.
For the next chapter in this ongoing saga, please visit waiting on God. To continue the story, read about God's Comfort, which fortunately never fails, and to learn the final results, you'll want to check out My Anchor Holds.
Hopefully this will be the end of our "Dealing with Change" saga, and we can return to informing you about our mission work on this website.
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