The Modern Pilgrim # 36- Pilgrim is delighted that she and the other travelers made it over the treacherous mountains into the valley that the Good Shepherd promised was on the other side. Their laughter and joy fade away though as they take better stock of this new valley. The trees and vegetation are vastly different from their own peaceful little valley. This is somewhat unsettling but what brings utter quiet to the entire group is the sights and sounds of the valley’s animals and insects. Screeches, caws, and howls the likes of which they’ve never heard before, rise from below them. Curious bugs swarm their heads while creeping creatures crawl over their shoes. What in the world can the shepherd be thinking to make them work so hard and long only to come to such a place!
Ever try to find an authentic steak hoagie in the Midwest? I grew up in Philadelphia, the home of these fabulous sandwiches. When I moved to Michigan, at the age of thirteen, the culture shock destroyed my equilibrium for a time. Not finding a decent steak hoagie was the least of my concerns. One of my greatest challenges was turning down all my social cue dials. People kept saying things like, “Sharon, don’t talk so loud, I’m right here. “And “Slow down, what’s your hurry.” Or “Whatcha getting all worked up about?”
From my perspective, I didn’t think I was loud, pushy, or stressed. I simply behaved according to East Coast social norms, which are radically different from the Midwest. I had to learn how to adapt to my new world with its rules and expectations or face the angst of total rejection in Junior High. Some people never learn to do this. They remain little islands in seas of change.
I’ll say it again. I think we are standing on the precipice of changes in our country and world, that are like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. In one week, Americans will vote for a president and other elected officials. At the top of the ticket, the two visions for America are so vastly different from each other, that whoever wins, America is in for a monumental change of some kind.
Our norms and paradigms are about to change.
Our world, as we know it is about to change.
The question is, are we ready to live in a changed world?
Living and thriving in the unknown takes courage and stamina.
God already knows what our upcoming world is going to look like in this new era, just like he knew the world Noah re-entered after the flood. Can you imagine the changes to landscape, geography, weather, vegetation, and animals and insects that confronted Noah? He and his family created entirely new systems, routines, and lifestyles to adapt to their new world.
It sounds stressful doesn’t it? Yet, Noah didn’t die off quickly from stress-related illnesses. He lived another 350 years after the flood. How did he do it? Genesis 6:9 states it plainly. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Simple words, with worlds of meaning. Noah walked with God.
He walked with God to figure out where his family should live.
He walked with God to learn where they could find drinking water.
He walked with God to learn how to navigate the new terrain.
He walked with God to find materials to make a new home.
And on, and on and on. The reason Noah adapted and obviously thrived in a new world was because he walked in intimacy with God.
That’s it. We don’t know what’s coming at us, and how different the world will be a month from now, a year from now. God does. Will he not do the same for us as he did with Noah? Will he also empower us to be the kind of trail blazers and leaders that will attract lost people to God? Many, many people will be lost, confused, and trying to cling to old unworkable paradigms, systems, and behaviors.
Shouldn’t the body of Christ be the ones to shout, “Hey, join us cause we’re following the One who knows the way through this.” (Isaiah 30:21) And “Why don’t you come along with us; cause we’re following the One whose words are like flashlights in dark places.” (Psalm 119:105) There will be so much confusion and uncertainty that people will be looking for rocks to cling to. We can’t miss this opportunity to point them to The Rock. But we will, if we’re too busy trying to create our own little Island of The Past.
I honestly think that in some places there will be change and upheaval like the American South after the Civil War. An entire lifestyle was erased during that war and many people never adapted to the world that emerged afterwards. Thousands of slaves merely changed their titles from slave to sharecropper and entered another form of bondage. Former slave owners still functioned like masters over them although they didn’t call themselves that anymore. These types of unhealthy relationships lasted well into the twentieth century, as if the Civil War never happened. (If you’re interested in reading an insider’s view of that I recommend the book “Same Kind of Different As Me,” in which Ron Hall tells Denver Moore’s story of growing up in the sharecropping system and its effects on his life.)
Every believer will need the courage of Noah to come out of our arks and fully enter the new world which will soon be emerging. What scares you the most? Talk to God about it. What things do you wish didn’t have to change? Talk to God about it. It’s entirely up to him what remains and what is swept away, just as in the days of Noah. And just like he did for Noah, he will equip those who walk intimately with him with everything they need for the new world.