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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: Revelation 20-22

Last August 30, Mike and I picked up our dogs after I finished leading the Sunday worship service; put few bags in our car; locked the front door of our townhome in Aurora, CO; and drove 1,045 miles to our new home in Woodland Hills, CA. In the 387 days that have followed, much has changed.

Mike has made a career change – moving from the field of human services to commercial real estate. I made the decision to address my long-ignored issues of codependence by getting involved in a Co-Dependents Anonymous group. Mike has acquired a new car, and Mike and I have abandoned some routines in our relationship (AKA "ruts") that no longer worked for us.

So why did we suddenly take on so many new things in our life? Was there something magical in the water in Woodland Hills, CA that empowered us to make these dramatic changes that was lacking in the water in Aurora, CO?

The answer is, "No!" We didn't make these series of substantial changes because of something superficial like the water – we made those changes because the dramatic shift in the circumstances of our lives seemed to give us permission to make changes. There was no way, for instance, that we could pretend that we were continuing with business as usual after the move. Everything was different. This sense of difference gave us the opportunity to stop in the middle of our activities and ask ourselves, "So how would I like to accomplish this task in this new environment. Do I want to continue long-held patterns, or do I want to try something different?"

In a surprising number of cases, our answer was, "We want to try something different."

It's too bad that it took something as dramatic as a move 1,045 miles to get us to try something new. Technically, we could have certainly tried some of the new things in our former environment. There's something about us human beings, however, that makes it difficult for us to make dramatic changes when we are in the midst of the status quo.

As I finished reading the Book of Revelation today, I must say that I saw that same dynamic at work in the vision constructed by its author. The book was written in the context of a status quo that meant there were certain givens in their daily life: the Roman Empire was in place and controlled many facets of their lives; the Christian faith was a movement of outsiders that was extremely vulnerable; and those who made a commitment to follow Jesus often paid the price with some form of persecution. They couldn't imagine a world that was different unless the foundations of the world were shaken and a New Jerusalem descended from the heavens (see Revelation 21).

My experience over the last year and my reading of Revelation makes me wonder: "Is the only way that real change happens - through dramatic and unsettling changes around a person that forces him/her into a new reality (a new Jerusalem, if you will); or is it possible for an individual to grow into significant change without such upheaval?"

I suppose the answer to that question varies from person to person. How is it for you? Are you comfortable initiating and living into dramatic change that grows out of the status quo; or do you need the world as you know it to end first?

Til next time …

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