The Gift of Change

We are delighted to welcome back Rev. Edwin Hollen, a return guest blogger

The Gift of Change

“I will” is a great resolve when focused on a needed positive change. It is always interesting to hear the comments of some as we come near to the close of a year. Has it been the disappointment of a wrong choice in the year just lived? Or is it the hope that finally the new year will be the year of fulfilled dreams?

One thing is a lesson we all learn soon or should learn. We become the sum total of our resolves, choices made daily as well as yearly. The combining of our decisions determine our road of life and also the closing. The easiest part is to make a statement as to what we are going to do. The follow-through is probably where most fail. Endurance and focus is critical in fruition.

When I was young, I knew of a man given to heavy drinking (today he would be referred to as an alcoholic). He met his drinking buddies one day with a new decision: “I quit drinking!”

Their response: “For how long?”

“For life!” he responded. Their laughter provoked an immediate response. “I’ve done it before, I can do it again” he declared.

“For life”?

Remember follow-through is where the fulfillment of our resolve happens. One said, “Words are cheap—to make it happen is costly.” The story of the prodigal in Scripture is a great resolution story. Nowhere are we given a hint as to the time of year it was, nor does it matter. He has lived out a decision. He has now come to a daily regret and with remorse, awakening one morning, he makes a momentous decision. Hesitating, no longer suffering over the mistakes of the past, the resolve is made:

“I will arise and go,” and go he did.

The one innate gift the Creator has given us is the ability to change our thinking (harder for some than others). To resolve, to decide, to make choices is a cherished gift to a human life. God does not respond to just certain dates (like the New Year) to allow change or to a select people. “Whosoever will may Come.”

I am not in any way a promoter of those easy-on bumper stickers. Perhaps I would be one to oppose even their production, however I saw one so eye-catching and true—life-altering:

On the road of life, God allows U-turns

It is not a New Year’s thing. It is an “any day” thing with you and God. Though it is easier in younger years, change is possible in any season of life. Every life is filled with decisions. Could we find one who has made them all correctly or wisely?

Some twenty-five years ago, my wife, Phyllis, and I had just returned from ministry in the Netherlands. We visited the advanced-training center of Teen Challenge in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania, where our youngest son, Paul, was on staff working with those whose resolves had brought them to a condition of despair. His job was to travel fulltime into schools, churches, and gatherings where those in the program of restoring could relate their stories. Their group was named U-Turn.

As I spoke that morning in a chapel service and looked out over the sea of faces making new resolves, it was the apex of the summer. It left a lingering truth in my spirit. Oh, the gift of change!

Perhaps some reading this have lived this past year or even a lifetime of regret over wrong resolves and choices. Live there no longer, in that state of disappointment and despair. U-turn yourself and turn around. Resolve with determination to “arise and go to my Father.” Relive the prodigal story! Jesus said, “Come!”

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