Gary Zimak

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I always welcome change. I don’t.

It saddens me when I drive down the streets of Northeast Philly and remember the long-gone stores, friends and events of my youth. I miss the shows we watched on TV and the music we listened to on “Famous 56” WFIL. I wish I could have another conversation with my Mom and Dad or have Christmas dinner at my Aunt Betsy’s house.

Whether I like it or not, however, things change. People die, stores close, parish priests are transferred and children move away from home. Change is a part of life. And even though I struggle with it at times, I can definitely see the benefit of change.

Need a few examples?

Life definitely has its share of painful experiences. Most of us know what it’s like to sit in a traffic jam, lie in bed with an illness, wait for warmer/cooler weather, work at an unfulfilling job or wait for the results of a medical test.

I don’t know about you, but what gets me through difficult circumstances like these is the hope that things will change for the better. Can you imagine how much greater your suffering would be if you knew that it would never go away?

It’s relatively easy to see the value of change in the situation above, but what about when it affects your life in a negative way? Things are going great and all of a sudden your world is turned upside down. Can change still help us when it causes so much chaos? It absolutely can, but we need to dig a little deeper.

If nothing ever changed, we could easily slip into complacency and assume that we’re totally in control of our lives. As a result, we can easily forget about God. When things do change and we feel uncomfortable, however, it’s much easier to come to grips with our lack of control and remember who is really in charge. When our circumstances change for the worse, we are given a great opportunity to draw closer to the Lord.

Consider the apostles. Most of them were fishermen by trade and felt right at home on the sea. It was their comfort zone. When they were in the boat, casting their nets, they felt in control. Once they accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him, however, things had to change. They needed to learn that they weren’t the ones in charge.

In order to strengthen their faith in him, Jesus first had to shake them up a bit. He did so by leading them on a journey.

As the saga begins, they are clearly the ones in charge:

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. (Mark 4:35-36)

Then the weather conditions change and the seasoned fishermen begin to panic. They suddenly realize that they are no longer in control. Their fear causes them to turn to Jesus:

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:37-38)

Jesus wakes up, calms the storm and the apostles are in awe:

He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mark 4:39-41)

Even though it was painful, the raging storm taught the self-reliant apostles an important lesson. It’s a lesson we all need to learn. No matter how confident or comfortable we may feel, we are not in control of our lives.

Last night, my daughters were watching some home movies from my childhood. We had them converted years ago and haven’t seen them in ages. I was overwhelmed with memories of Christmas mornings and summer vacations.

I saw Sally Starr, Captain Noah and Chief Halftown at the Thanksgiving Day parade. I witnessed my Mom and Dad laugh and dance around with us at family parties. It was difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that so many of these once young people were no longer alive. It saddened me, but it also served as a reminder that life on earth is temporary.

What’s the best way to deal with the changes that we encounter on a daily basis? I have found that the secret is to imitate the frightened apostles in the boat as they feared for their lives. When the sudden change in the weather turned their world upside down, they turned to the One who doesn’t change.

We would be wise to follow their example.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

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Gary Zimak is a best-selling author, speaker and radio host based in South Jersey. Connect with him online at FollowingTheTruth.com.