Isaiah 35:8 reads, “There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It’s for God’s people exclusively it is for them impossible to get lost on the Way of Holiness, this is the mighty pathway of God.” (Isaiah 35:8 MSG)
There is an old saying, which I believe is true, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” The truth is, nobody likes change. I know I don’t. What it really takes to stay open to change, is staying in contact with God, who is always on what Isaiah calls, the ‘way of holiness.’
Now in my sixties, and I’m just learning to play golf. I have learned a lot about staying open to change by playing golf, which seems to be a young man’s sport.; and it’s hard to teach an old dog like me new tricks.
Golf requires lots of walking, carrying and swinging heavy golf clubs. It also calls for looking for little white balls, often hidden in grass, woods or a marsh, which, in order to find, you need good eyes. For an “old dog,” golf has required that I make some changes.
As we navigate change, God is always on the ‘way of holiness,’ walking with those who are open to change. He is never on His way there; He is already there. He is there saving us.
The beautiful thing about the ‘way of holiness’ is that although we tend to stray from it, God never leaves the road. Isaiah 35, reminds us that those open to change, are “Ready to put things right, and to redress all wrong.” (Isaiah 35:10)
It appears that the Gospel was God’s plan to not only keep us open to change; but to also protect us from our fears of change that crop up along the way. Fear is one of the weakening agents against change; oddly the more we fearfully strive against change, the weaker we become.
On the other hand, the more we accept change, the stronger we become, both in our ability to do good as well our ability to endure sufferings. Staying open to change creates an openness to change, through God’s divine grace. This sacred shift allows those who knew little about prayer or God to find their mouths opening and praise pouring out.
During Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came upon the Gentiles, they all heard the Word and suddenly found the fountain of life opening to them.
Jesus, too, stayed open to change. While on earth, He was always found in the ‘way of holiness,’ or on ‘the path of righteousness.’
For instance, when a Phoenician woman came to Christ asking Him to heal her demon possessed daughter, Christ said, “Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there’s any left over, the dogs get it.” She said, “Of course, Master. But don’t dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?” Mark 7:27
Because this was an unusual request, it meant suddenly Jesus had to become open to change. The path Christ walked constantly demanded He be open to strangers and to change.
Change is much like coping with a fierce blowing wind. When it’s blowing too hard, leaning into the wind is the best way to move through it; which brings me back to the subject of golf.
I’ve learned much about golf and its many life lessons about staying open to change. I’ve learned that the trick to a good golf game involves positioning oneself in the right stance, standing at the right hitting angle, then leaning into the ball to hit it.
Dealing with change often takes the same approach. Lean into it and remember that, with God, you never have to take on change by yourself.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org