Some friends of mine who’ve made adjustments…
And then there are the colossal unforeseen circumstances that require much larger adjustments: the death of a family member or friend, divorce, health crises, loss of career. I have two widow friends who lost their husbands at about the same time a few years back. One has wrapped her entire life around her loss – her widowhood has defined her. Rather than making the adjustment to her new reality and finding an off-ramp so she can take an unfamiliar route, she’s parked on the freeway shoulder hoping and waiting for her reality to transform itself. The other widow friend, though just as devastated from the loss of the love of her life, over time, she has found the courage to play the hand she’s been dealt and has adapted to her new world with new dreams. These purposes very much include her late husband’s memory and legacy, but circumstances are such that they will not (until heaven) include his company.
One of my greatest inspirations comes from my good friends Dan and Lynn who lost their two teenage girls when a drunk driver rammed into them on their way home from a Christian conference. Painstakingly and incrementally they began letting go of it as life was and making the adjustments to what it is. They now do a bi-monthly ministry in their local women’s jail, singing songs and teaching the Bible to the inmates. They’d never been in such a place until they visited Lisa in prison, the woman who killed their girls, and developed a compassion for women in similar circumstances. Lynn and Lisa (now released from incarceration) have often served together to jails, churches, and college classes giving talks on such things as forgiveness and sobriety!
My young friend David was recently driving back to Northern California after a brief visit with his family in the Bay Area. In route his radiator blew up and he had to be towed to the nearest small town. While conversing with the mechanic he asked him if he knew Jesus. The man’s face, white with shock, said to David that he knew about Jesus and had that very day been pondering what it would be like to know him personally! “So, do you want to meet him right now?” David asked in a kind but bold way. Right then and there he led him in a prayer to receive Jesus. Neither David nor the small town car mechanic woke up in the morning with this encounter written into their agenda for the day. Detours don’t always have to be bad trips, they can, by divine appointment, they might put us in contact with opportunities otherwise unknown to us.
Palm trees, toy soldiers, and alcoholics adjust…
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, “The old is better.” Luke 5:38-39
The reason we need “new wineskins” is because they’re flexible. They’re capable of stretching to accommodate the new wine that’s expanding inside them. The old skins are brittle and won’t expand along with the new wine. Someone said, “The only way to get new wine skins is to kill an old goat!”
Jesus said that some “say the old is better.” The older you get, the more you like old things, like what we call “the good old days.” That’s exactly what they are, they might have been good, but they’re also old. Because they’ve happened already, they’re not new, but old. Someone said that by definition “a conservative is someone who thinks that nothing should ever be done the first time.
“Old” wine tastes better because our palate is used to it. they like different food in India or Kenya than we do here in the U.S., not because they’re born with a different kind of taste buds or because there’s a right kind of food and a wrong kind. Your palate adjusts to the food and drink you give it. If God gives you something you don’t like at first, you’ll either learn to like it or learn to live with it, because if you don’t, you’ll die without it.
The palm tree is able to flex with vehement tropical winds. I’ve seen them bend almost all the way to the ground so as not to snap off at the trunk.
Did you ever have one of those toy soldiers who, when wound up and set on the floor, march until they run into something, at which point they shift course and go another direction? They don’t seem to have a problem adjusting to whatever surprises crop up. Sometimes they run into an obstacle perpendicularly and get stuck marching against the wall until they run out of energy. Sadly, they don’t make the adjustment, instead they insist on stubbornly beating their head against the wall until they die that way.
In recovery groups all over the world addicts desperately recite the “Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr. The first part of the prayer is the most familiar: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Of all people, the addict needs to adjust to what is, and not insist on it changing before he’ll stop medicating himself. We all have to accept the things we can’t change. But did you know there’s more to the prayer?
It goes on to say, “Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it: Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen” If we could all learn to take the world as it is and not as we would have it, we’d be better off. Yes?
[Next we’ll look at people in the Bible’s narrative who made adjustments, and some who didn’t…]