This weekend we got a new car and traded in my old car. My old car was fifteen years old and had almost 180,000 miles. We would have kept the car longer, but there were too many expensive fixes to make repairing the car worth the car’s value. Normally, people get pretty excited about a new car – all the old dents and scratches are gone, and in my case, I can now be certain I won’t be break down on the highway. But mostly I have been a bit sad about having to get rid of the old car. That car helped us get through three rounds of graduate school, four moves, multiple jobs, the birth of two children, and was only six months younger than our marriage. The car survived endless road trips, commutes to work, and at one point was our shared car until we got a second car. Although the car had started making me anxious with all its repair needs, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a good, faithful friend.
As I have been reflecting on that experience, I have been thinking my experience with my old and new car is similar to how we all experience change. Most of us know that change in inevitable, and yet most of us do not like change. Even if the thing we are changing from is good for us, we miss the old quirks, patterns, and sense of regularity. And the further out of the familiar we get, the more epic the memory of what once was becomes. This is often the point at which people begin to refer to the “good ol’ days,” or “the way things used to be.” Whatever the new change is will rarely seem as good as the old standard.
I have been feeling that way about my new car. Sure, it is more reliable, it has fewer things peeling, sagging, or just broken, and it is more sporty, shiny, and colorful. But I am finding I am not yet sold. The new car just does not feel like it fits yet. Observing my feelings about my car has been especially helpful for me as I think about all the times I have introduced change at church. Sure, whatever changes I have introduced are usually for the good, and most often, become the new “way we have always done it.” But falling in love with the new change takes time. It does not happen overnight.
Perhaps this may be a good way we can approach our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is God’s agent of change. She is always whispering new ideas, blowing new people into our lives, and breathing life into our imaginations. Listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit is exciting, fun, and invigorating. But boldly following the Holy Spirit also needs to involve tending to the grief of letting go of the what the Spirit was doing before. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” I wonder what seasons are passing away in your life, and what new times are arriving for you. My prayer for you is that you be able to appreciate the season you are in, let go of the seasons that have passed, and embrace the seasons that are yet to come. I know the Holy Spirit is doing good things in you. I cannot wait to walk with you in the twists and turns!